## Brief Argument for Objective Values

• 7.6k
“Truth” doesn’t refer to beliefs. That would make it subjective. Truth independent of thought is objective.

It seems to me that noumena is what I mean when I refer to objective reality.
AJJ

I think it's important to distinguish objective, subjective, and transcendental truths. By the latter, I'm not referring to the supernatural, but things which, while they may be true irrespective of what any particular person believes about them, are not objective, because they don't pertain to the realm of objects. I think that mathematical proofs fall into this category; their validity is determined by reason alone, but they're not objective, because their reality is solely intellectual. They are in some sense transcendentally true (although the term is not usually used in exactly that way.)

That's close in meaning to 'noumenal' . Have a glance at the Wikipedia article on Noumenon, which indeed gives one definition of noumenon as 'the object of an act of thought'. It is well understood that when this is used in reference to ideal objects such as the triangle, that it refers to a concept which is purely intellectual in nature, not to any specific instance of the concept in question. So the ‘noumenal’’ refers to the domain of ideal objects although this is derived from the definition of the word, not the way Kant used it.
• 7.5k
The problem I see with this argument is that it is not so much that we ought to believe facts but rather that if we accept something as a fact we cannot disbelieve it.
• 176
while they may be true irrespective of what any particular person believes about them, are not objective, because they don't pertain to the realm of objects

As you may know, Kant refers to these as synthetic transcendentals, though I'm not sure Kant would say they are not objective because they are not objects. As you note, we can view all objects as actually just thought ... and then, well it definitely gets harder to distinguish "thought objects" with "objects only in thought"; though I'm not contradicting you here, I would tend to agree we can start to make these distinctions (it just gets really hard, really fast, but we can justify that by saying it's because we don't normally think in this way, just as we don't normally think in quantum mechanical way so it is very hard).

I am however curious if you are working within a Kantian view, or you would want to point in another direction.

The problem I see with this argument is that it is not so much that we ought to believe facts but rather that if we accept something as a fact we cannot disbelieve it.

I agree with you here that "we'd want the truth to be that which we cannot disbelieve", but I am defending the view that we could just "disbelieve it anyway", as an act of will.

And I am not defending this view simply to make curious discussion, it seems an issue of the most critical political importance. The most powerful man in the world (or at least certainly very powerful) says one thing and then another in direct contradiction to the first, and seems to genuinely believe what he is saying each time. He has a following, that at first completely disoriented by this behaviour, (after he won) quickly got to work building an entirely new epistemological industry over night that claims feelings are a justification for factual beliefs. For me, in both cases, this is working backwards from an act of will to believe one thing to whatever is convenient to support those beliefs, and critical thinkers are mistaken to simply ignore this (even if none of these people argue their points on philosophy forum: because it is not convenient to believe they should subject themselves to critical scrutiny on philosophy forum) because ignoring this leads to a false world view where all political actors are of good faith.

Now, I don't want to put the discussion in a political direction, new threads can be made for that, but I do want to provide context that the views I'm defending have consequence. If we say "well of course we'll just dismiss the idea of lies as truth, or contradictions as good" as we need these ideas to do philosophy; we may indeed need these ideas to do philosophy, but we must also contend with (what seems to be) the fact that, in the political sphere, people don't agree with us nor see a need to do philosophy. And so if someone says "I ought to believe facts" we should not ontologically or epistemologically exclude there is some way, even if it is strange to us, to really believe "I ought to believe lies".

The purpose of so doing is not to label opponents as "those that believe they ought to believe lies", we can never know (I liar will usually say "I am no liar"), but rather to bring us to reflect on how our politics changes if there are such bad faith actors (from our point of view of wanting beliefs to pass critical scrutiny).
• 382
The problem I see with this argument is that it is not so much that we ought to believe facts but rather that if we accept something as a fact we cannot disbelieve it.

You have a point here, but does it preclude that facts ought to be believed?
• 366
“The cat is on the mat” is false if the cat is not on the mat.AJJ

But how can you ever know that it is True that the cat is on the mat?

What if what you think is a cat is not a cat but a fox that looks like a cat? What if what you think is a mat is not a mat but something else that looks like a mat because of some optical illusion? What if you were dreaming that the cat is on the mat, or you imagined it, or no one else but you saw it?

The issue I see with the idea of Truth is that it is unreachable. I see subjective truth, something that you or I believe is true. I see shared subjective truth, something that you and I believe is true. I see objective truth, a subjective truth that is shared by so many people that they dismiss those who do not share it with them as delusional. And that's it.

And what I have just said is of course my subjective truth, because I personally don't see anything that would contradict it. But I won't pretend that my subjective truth is Truth in the sense that it applies beyond my existence, because to me it is possible that someone somewhere might see something I don't see that makes them have a subjective truth that disagrees with mine.
• 382

Sure, I accept all that. So when I’ve been talking about objective truth and objective values then really I’ve been referring to transcendental truth and transcendental values.
• 382

You have a good point. That there is Truth does not necessarily mean that we have access to it. However, I don’t think this affects the OP argument, since it can still be the case that facts ought to be believed, even if we can never really know what is and is not a fact.
• 366
You have a good point. That there is Truth does not necessarily mean that we have access to it. However, I don’t think this affects the OP argument, since it can still be the case that facts ought to be believed, even if we can never really know what is and is not a fact.AJJ

Indeed I think "not having access to Truth" in itself does not affect the OP argument, but the OP argument rests on the premise that "there are facts" (in the sense facts that are True, that ought to be believed), and to me we don't have to accept that very premise as True.

To me there is only the apparence of facts, that is things that many people agree on, but to me this is not proof that there is Truth. It could be that Truth is something that many of us imagine to exist, rather than something existing independently of us.
• 382

Then I would ask - if you truly do not think there is Truth that we have access to - why are you here? Why do you seek to adopt or express opinions and ideas about anything at all?
• 366

I think we have access to something, but that something is not the same depending on the person. I think each of us has their own reality, and in some aspects our realities overlap, and I find it interesting to discuss about where they overlap and where they differ, and how through speech we can influence the realities of others to some extent.

I used to believe that there is Truth, but I have failed to find evidence of it, rather it seems to me a lot of confusion and problems disappear if we stop assuming that there is Truth out there existing independently of us. Rather I believe that we create it ourselves, that we are involved.

But again I don't claim that what I say here is Truth, this is my own truth that I have formed after a lot of personal thinking and observations over the years.
• 382

I think that’s a prevaricatory way of saying there is no Truth but you behave as if there is.

It seems to me that a person who actually lived as if there were no Truth would collapse right where they were, to eventually die and rot away; because there’d be no reason for them to do anything else.
• 7.6k
Sure, I accept all that. So when I’ve been talking about objective truth and objective values then really I’ve been referring to transcendental truth and transcendental values.AJJ

Well, I think it's worth thinking through that and making it explicit, as there's a really important point here. After all, science and the social sciences, and many other disciplines (i.e. 'every man and his dog'), wish to be validated with respect to objective facts, they thump the tub and demand 'but what of Objective Facts?!?' But I think only philosophy can ask 'what does "objective" mean'? and then have some further criteria against which to qualify the answer. And that answer appeals to what is transcendentally true, i.e. something true for all minds capable of grasping it, but intelligible only to a rational intellect (see Augustine on Intelligible Objects.) I think this is very near to a vital point about the Western philosophical tradition which is grasped by vanishingly few people.

I am however curious if you are working within a Kantian view, or you would want to point in another direction.

As I mentioned, I think the wikipedia entry on Noumena is interesting, because it provides the etymological link between 'noumena' and that seminal Greek word 'nous'. So the 'noumenal object' is really rather more like the 'ideal form' in the sense of an 'intellectual object' - or a "concept" in the true sense of the word (which is often bandied about but rarely appreciated.) It is, in a sense, what can be 'directly perceived by nous' - but what is directly percieved by nous is not 'the object of perception' but the ideal forms, of which any particular is but an representation.

I don't think Kant explicitly recognises the forms, in a Platonic sense - he was initially Platonist but came to reject the platonic forms later in his career. So he certainly wouldn't have agreed with my reading, which is more Thomistic. But, what I'm attracted to, is actually what is called hylomorphism, or matter-form dualism. I found this really intriguing passage on a Thomist website here which I have mentioned a number of times on this forum, but unfortunately nobody seemed to be interested. But it seems very profound to me, based on the idea that the 'intelligible forms' of things are what the intellect knows directly, and then combines with the 'sensory perception' to arrive at judgement. I find it infinitely more appealing than Cartesianism.
• 366
It seems to me that a person who actually lived as if there were no truth would collapse right where they were, to eventually die and rot away; because there’d be no reason for them to do anything else.AJJ

No, because there is my personal truth, and I act on it. But I don't pretend that it is objective, that it is embedded in an universe that exists independently of us, or that others ought to agree with me.

I behave based on what I believe, based on my personal view of existence, I have beliefs, but I don't believe that others ought to believe what I believe, and I don't need a Truth to find a reason to do something, I just need my personal truth.

Sure I believe for instance that when I'm thirsty I need to drink some sort of liquid to stop being thirsty. That doesn't mean I believe that any being ought to drink to quench their thirst.

I have found that people can function well while having incompatible and contradicting beliefs between one another. If they live by having very different truths, what is Truth?
• 382

The Truth is the transcendental Truth; it is what it is regardless how many different personal “truths” there are.

Other than that I’d just repeat my last response to you. Probably we should just draw a line under this now.
• 366
The Truth is the transcendental Truth; it is what it is regardless how many different personal “truths” there are.AJJ

Do you have examples?

Then if some people do not see these examples as examples of truth, how would you prove it to them that they are Truth?
• 382

Yes, I agree with what you say, and that has been my view from the start: that there is a transcendental truth (which I was calling “objective”), that objective facts are a part of this, that they can be accessed and understood, and that a necessary part of those facts is that they ought to be believed.

Your mention of intelligible forms is pertinent. Many of the problems in this discussion I feel have been because of a general failure to consider Truth abstracted from any concrete example; to consider a fact as something that participates in the Truth, rather than a material instance of something.
• 382

That isn’t a pertinent question. The transcendental Truth is what it is regardless of what I can say or prove.
• 366

You can believe what you want to believe, but still from my point of view I don't see evidence of that Truth. It is true to you that there is Truth, while it is true to me that there is no Truth, which I see as evidence that truth is personal, and not as evidence that there is Truth.

The argument in the OP rests on the premise that Truth exists, so I felt it important to point out that this premise is not true for everyone, considering that the conclusion of the argument is that there are objective values that apply to everyone.
• 9.7k
The transcendental TruthAJJ

Here you're adding "transcendental." Are you also alluding to religious ideas? Otherwise what is the function of "transcendental" here?

Maybe this is your definition of "transcendental truth"? "The Truth is the transcendental Truth; it is what it is regardless how many different personal 'truths' there are." If so, what does capital-T "Truth" refer to without the word "transcendental" in front of it? Or is it that "transcendental Truth " is akin to saying something like "unmarried bachelor"?

general failure to consider Truth abstracted from any concrete example; to consider a fact as something that participates in the Truth, rather than a material instance of something.AJJ

What would that be referring to?
• 366

Also I would like to say that I do hope there is some Truth, not in the sense that there is a Truth that exists independently of us, but in the sense that we all participate in creating the world, in shaping our reality and the realities of others. And this idea that there is no Truth existing independently of us doesn't have to leave us feeling powerless, on the contrary if we are the ones shaping the world then we are potentially omnipotent, the world is what we make it, Truth is what we make it, God resides in each one of us if you will. But until others see it as Truth it won't be Truth, it will remain my personal truth.
• 382
And this idea that there is no Truth existing independently of us doesn't have to leave us feeling powerless, on the contrary if we are the ones shaping the world then we are potentially omnipotent, the world is what we make it, Truth is what we make it, God resides in each one of us if you will.leo

That kind of talk creeps me out.
• 366

Why? The idea that we are collectively responsible for the way the world is? That a human being can do both good and terrible things? That there is no absolute standard independent of us we can rely on?
• 7.5k
You have a point here, but does it preclude that facts ought to be believed?AJJ

If we cannot but believe something we acknowledge as fact, doesn't that leave the only place for an "ought" as consisting in the condition that we ought to acknowledge facts as facts? If there is any doubt that some proposition is a fact, then how can it be determined that it ought to be acknowledged as such?
• 7.5k
I agree with you here that "we'd want the truth to be that which we cannot disbelieve", but I am defending the view that we could just "disbelieve it anyway", as an act of will.

I can only speak from my own experience, and I find myself incapable of willfully disbelieving anything that I see as being a fact. The question is what must I acknowledge as factual and on the basis of what must I acknowledge it?
• 232
What are the problems that you think are solved by not believing in Truth, or by supposing that all truth is relative?
• 382
If we cannot but believe something we acknowledge as fact, doesn't that leave the only place for an "ought" as consisting in the condition that we ought to acknowledge facts as facts?

Yes, that sounds right.

If there is any doubt that some proposition is a fact, then how can it be determined that it ought to be acknowledged as such?

Perhaps it couldn’t be determined, but whatever the fact is it would be the case that you ought to believe it.
• 7.5k
I have no problem with saying that we ought to believe facts if that is taken to mean that we ought to acknowledge facts as facts, but like I said this still leaves open the questions as to how to ascertain that something is in fact a fact, and which purported facts we should acknowledge as such. So, I'm not sure the formula helps us much in practice.

Perhaps an example or two for examination would help.
• 176
I can only speak from my own experience, and I find myself incapable of willfully disbelieving anything that I see as being a fact. The question is what must I acknowledge as factual and on the basis of what must I acknowledge it?

Yes, I have no problem believing you value facts, just as with AJJ.

My point here is that we're not forced to. We can just see contradictory things and believe them both. Now, whether each thing warrants belief in itself, that "we have to ascertain that something is in fact a fact", we might say "doesn't change the fact that these two contradictory facts cannot both be true".

To give names to the positions I'm discussing. An "epistimic determinist" would believe that once someone is aware of a contradiction they cannot believe both things simultaneously. They would probably conclude this because they themselves try to unwind or resolve contradiction when they see it, and assume everyone does likewise.

My point of view is thus "epistimic indeterminism", that there is no necessary connection between what we see as true and what we believe. We are capable of seeing a contradiction and believing it doesn't warrant unwinding or resolution, and so continue to believe in both contradictory propositions. We are capable of seeing the law-of-non-contradiction itself and believing it's not true. Philosophers generally agree this leads to incoherent world views, but we can see that our world view is incoherent and have no problem in believing it anyways.
• 382

I don’t think those questions are relevant here,
since the OP isn’t about how we come to know facts.

If facts ought to be believed/acknowledged then the OP argument works, stating that if there are no objective values then there can therefore be no facts. It seems obvious that there are facts, so there must be objective values.
• 366
What are the problems that you think are solved by not believing in Truth, or by supposing that all truth is relative?

Many people are convinced they hold Truth, yet their truths contradict one another, but they believe they hold the real Truth and that the other side is wrong, and they will defend their Truth at all costs. So by believing in Truth, we have the problem that people attempt to impose their Truth and fight one another to make their Truth prevail. This leads to indoctrination, oppression, wars, genocides, ...

A finite set of observations can be explained in an arbitrarily large number of ways, in an arbitrarily large number of theories, so we won't ever find only one theory that fits all the available evidence. Not believing in Truth removes the problem of which theory is correct, we just have to pick the most practical one or the one that best suits our needs.

Because a finite set of observations can be explained in an arbitrarily large number of ways, we can always arrange to see new evidence as consistent with our Truth, which is one of the reasons why many people won't let go of their Truth, to them it fits the evidence perfectly. And if people can't be convinced that their Truth may not be the Truth, how could we ever know when we've found the Truth, if it even exists?

When people agree on a Truth, it reinforces their conviction that it is the real Truth, and they see those who disagree with them as suffering from delusions, and if they fail to convince them they label them as mentally ill, and use this label to justify treating them in inhumane ways.

We don't stop seeing a Truth as Truth until we find some evidence that we are willing to see as contradicting that Truth, but until we see this evidence we are not aware of it, so there is always the possibility that there is something we are not yet aware of that would contradict this Truth, and so again even if we're sure we found the Truth it may be contradicted later on.

We don't have direct access to what other people experience, at least I don't, I only guess what others experience based on what I experience, but then it is possible some people see things I don't see, and that I see things that some people don't see, that our realities are different in some profound aspects, in a similar way that someone who is blind has a very different reality from someone who is not, and then if I believe I've found the Truth how could I know if it applies to people who see things differently?

So for all these reasons, and probably some others I'm not thinking of at the moment, I believe that truth is personal, that Truth is a mirage that leads to confusion, conflicts, suffering, and that people would be more compassionate and listen more to others if they stopped believing in an idea of Truth that exists out there independently from their existence.

And then if people stop believing in such a Truth they will start seeing themselves as responsible for what they do and how they treat others, rather than using Truth to justify doing the worse atrocities, as if that Truth was greater than themselves and they were just servants following its orders. If they see truth as coming from themselves, then they are the ones responsible for how they shape the world, them and not some superior principle existing out there.
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