## Do we need objective truth?

• 13.8k
The issue I see with calling these objective truth is, I am sure this is true to you, and I am sure you think this is true in general, but what if I don't know what these symbols mean? What if these arrows, chevrons and parentheses do not evoke anything in me beyond shapes drawn on a screen? Then these statements wouldn't be true to me, they would be drawings, and while I could say it is true to me that I see these drawings, I couldn't say these drawings refer to some independent truth.leo

The reason I agree that there is no objective truth is because of a "technical" issue re truth in analytic philosophy that I described above. (Truth is a property of propositions in analytic phil, propositions are the meanings of statements, and then my view stems from what I think the ontology of meaning is and how I think that the "link" between propositions and other things work--namely, that it's a judgment that a mind has to make.)

I do, however, think that there are objective facts. Most folks on the board seem to use "truth" so that it amounts to the same thing as "fact" (even though a couple different senses of "fact" tend to be conflated here, too). So that leads to some confusion.

Re objective facts, in general they don't hinge on whether you're aware of them, whether you understand them, whether you agree that they're facts. You're irrelevant to most of them. If you're not aware of them, don't understand them, don't agree that they're facts, then that's your problem. It doesn't change the facts.
• 830
This problem, of course, is due to the conflation of truth and meaning. The 'official' semantics of our shared language is too coarse and inflexible to accommodate the idiosyncrasies of every person's bespoke use and interpretation of their national language. One can imagine a futuristic society in which each person's private dialect of their national language is publicly translatable into every other person's private dialect. If in addition the causes of every person's utterances were also understood, then every utterance in the language could be publicly interpreted as being necessarily correct.sime

You seem to implicitly assume an objective reality that can be somehow accessed, referring to 'causes' as something objective that everyone would agree on, to personal dialects as being objectively translatable into one another. How could we agree on causes of what we experience if we don't agree on what we experience? How could we agree on an objective translation if in the first place we don't have access to what other people experience?

We use language as a rough way to try to see what others experience, if we had direct access to what others experience then your idea would be practical, but we don't, and that's the problem. Seeing the problem as a mere limitation of our current language is masking the deeper issue, it isn't a limit of our language, it is a limit of our ability to know what others experience. Words do not convey what others experience, they convey what we believe they experience, from our first-person point of view, making our language more precise wouldn't change that.

If there are experiences some people have that other people don't, why would the people who don't have these experiences agree that these experiences exist? For all they know those who claim having such experiences could be lying, or they could interpret these experiences falsely in terms of other experiences they've had. And that's not a limitation of our current language, that's a fundamental limitation of us not being omniscient. It seems to me that if we have different experiences, then we can't find something that everyone agrees on, or maybe everyone could agree on something temporarily but later on some would realize that they didn't have the same thing in mind when they were agreeing.

Maybe you will come to agree with me on this, but if you don't then that would only serve to support the idea that truth is personal. Until we find an example of truth that everyone agrees on, the concept of truth that applies to everyone is merely an idea that some people have.

Don't forget to answer: "You'd say that you're more certain that the experiences stem from a world that doesn't exist aside from our minds?"

I don't have a third-person perspective to know for sure, but then the very idea of a third-person perspective stems from a mind. My view is everything is mind-dependent in some way. Your view is that there are mind-independent things. In my view you can't use the mind-dependent concept of mind-independent things to prove that there are mind-independent things.

What you see as objective facts, I see as ideas that some minds try to impose on others based on mind-dependent criteria.
• 11
My thoughts is that Truth does not exist.
Truth is just a made up word for you to believe something works on how it should work when everything is just works how it should be.
Everything is just present.
• 13.8k
I don't have a third-person perspective to know for sure, but then the very idea of a third-person perspective stems from a mind. My view is everything is mind-dependent in some way. Your view is that there are mind-independent things. In my view you can't use the mind-dependent concept of mind-independent things to prove that there are mind-independent things.

What you see as objective facts, I see as ideas that some minds try to impose on others based on mind-dependent criteria.
leo

I don't see how this answers the question I asked you. My question is whether you're more certain about one particular claim than another, and then I'd ask how you're more certain of that.

Re my views, they have nothing to do with certainty, proof, etc. Those things are red herrings for empirical claims. I'm not asking you for anything like that, either. (The only reason I used the phrase "more certain" was because you used that phrase about your own views.)
• 3.1k
What is the difference between truth and belief? Cambridge dictionary defines belief as "the feeling of being certain that something exists or is true". You're implicitly saying that there is a true way to differentiate between truth and belief.leo

You're saying it is true that the Earth is a sphere, but many people say it is true that the Earth is an ellipsoid, and many other people say that it is true the Earth is neither a sphere nor an ellipsoid but something that approximates these shapes, and many other people say it is true that the Earth is flat. Who is right? Who is stating a truth and who is stating a belief?leo
We are all stating beliefs. The real shape of the Earth, independent of our statements about it's shape, is the truth - objective. Some of our terms are meant to be approximations, like the terms we use to describe the Earth's shape. "Accuracy" is a term that I like to use when it comes to the relationship between our claims and the truth. Our claims are more or less accurate when it comes to describing how things actually are (the truth). So some of these terms may be more accurate, but not necessarily entirely accurate, than others when describing the shape of the Earth.

If I disagree with you, how is your truth objective?leo
Asking how truth is objective is incoherent because truth and objectivity are the same thing. If truth/objective is independent of our beliefs then it doesn't matter whether you disagree or not. It doesn't even matter if you are aware of it or not. Truth is independent of your awareness.

Do you admit that there are things that are happening right now that you aren't aware of so your feelings about them have no bearing on their existence or their objectivity?

Your beliefs are such that they exist independent of what I think or believe about them.
Solipsists do not agree with that, so how are my beliefs objective?leo
It is incoherent to use Solipsist in the plural sense. If solipsism is the case, then there can only be one solipsist. If solipsism is the case, then beliefs become incoherent as there would be no aboutness to beliefs. The idea of solipsism makes the concept of "mind" incoherent.

If there is no objective truth, then why do so many people on this forum feel the need to quote other philosophers as if those other philosophers hold some truth about others than just the philosopher being quoted? — Harry Hindu

Because they agree with these philosophers, they share the same point of view about something, or they believe they do. This is my view, my personal truth. If you disagree with me, then you have a different truth, and we're not sharing the same truth, so it isn't objective.
leo
Then we would always be talking past each other - never talking about the same thing.
• 499
You seem to implicitly assume an objective reality that can be somehow accessed, referring to 'causes' as something objective that everyone would agree on, to personal dialects as being objectively translatable into one another. How could we agree on causes of what we experience if we don't agree on what we experience? How could we agree on an objective translation if in the first place we don't have access to what other people experience?

We use language as a rough way to try to see what others experience, if we had direct access to what others experience then your idea would be practical, but we don't, and that's the problem. Seeing the problem as a mere limitation of our current language is masking the deeper issue, it isn't a limit of our language, it is a limit of our ability to know what others experience. Words do not convey what others experience, they convey what we believe they experience, from our first-person point of view, making our language more precise wouldn't change that.

If there are experiences some people have that other people don't, why would the people who don't have these experiences agree that these experiences exist? For all they know those who claim having such experiences could be lying, or they could interpret these experiences falsely in terms of other experiences they've had. And that's not a limitation of our current language, that's a fundamental limitation of us not being omniscient. It seems to me that if we have different experiences, then we can't find something that everyone agrees on, or maybe everyone could agree on something temporarily but later on some would realize that they didn't have the same thing in mind when they were agreeing.

Maybe you will come to agree with me on this, but if you don't then that would only serve to support the idea that truth is personal. Until we find an example of truth that everyone agrees on, the concept of truth that applies to everyone is merely an idea that some people have.
leo

l was actually arguing for your position. I'm saying that truth is personal, as evidenced by the fact a super-flexible linguistic convention could be publicly adopted relative to which the public notion of truth is trivially and vacuously true. But that wouldn't abolish what each of us individually means by 'truth', but merely serve to highlight that truth is a non-representational, personal and practical notion.
• 1.3k
If it is presented to us, it is as we understand it; if we are not present, questions about anything are irrational. And foolish. Which is what I think you were trying to show.Mww

That is indeed where I was going, but I simply wanted to show that simply saying "well obviously the rock still exists, everything else would be stupid", as @Terrapin Station seems to be doing, ignores half the problem.

Edit: one could perhaps say that the simple "obviously rocks won't just disappear if humans die out" treats all idealism as solipsism.
• 621
The reason I agree that there is no objective truth is because of a "technical" issue re truth in analytic philosophy that I described above. (Truth is a property of propositions in analytic phil, propositions are the meanings of statements, and then my view stems from what I think the ontology of meaning is and how I think that the "link" between propositions and other things work--namely, that it's a judgment that a mind has to make.)

I do, however, think that there are objective facts. Most folks on the board seem to use "truth" so that it amounts to the same thing as "fact" (even though a couple different senses of "fact" tend to be conflated here, too). So that leads to some confusion.

If a proposition is true when it matches a fact - and the fact is objective - then why in your view would that truth not be objective? I understand meaning requires a mind to think it, but a proposition could be thought false by everyone, yet still be true. To exist the meaning/proposition requires a thinking mind, but its truth doesn’t depend on what anyone thinks beyond that, making it objective.

Or if a proposition is neither true nor false until someone judges it, which one is it when two people judge differently, and why?
• 11
Guys truth does not really exist.
We literally just forcing ourselves to believe its the truth while the real thing is remains what it is
• 11
For ex: we believe a box of carton is cube shaped and we called it truth and fact while the box of carton remains box shaped all the time
• 13.8k
as Terrapin Station seems to be doing, ignores half the problem.

What's stupid about it is that it's believed despite the complete lack of any cogent support for it. It's as bad as religious belief.

Come up with a good reason to entertain it, and then it might be worth bothering with it.
• 13.8k
If a proposition is true when it matches a fact - and the fact is objective - then why in your view would that truth not be objective?AJJ

The matching would have to be objective. That is, it would have to be a property of extramental things.

How are we supposed to arrive at extramental matching?

Or if a proposition is neither true nor false until someone judges it, which one is it when two people judge differently, and why?AJJ

True to the people who judge it to match. False to people who judge otherwise. (Simplifying so there are no other options.)
• 621
The matching would have to be objective. That is, it would have to be a property of extramental things.

How are we supposed to arrive at extramental matching?

Because something can match another thing regardless of anyone thinking it does. The existence of the proposition depends on thought, but I don’t see that the matching does.

True to the people who judge it to match. False to people who judge otherwise. (Simplifying so there are no other options.)

Can either group be said to be right?
• 13.8k
Because something can match another thing regardless of anyone thinking it does.AJJ

How would that work? We'd need to be able to describe/detail the process.

What I'm challenging is that there's no way for it to work outside of minds. That's one of the primary unique things about minds--intentionality, the "aboutness" ability, the ability to think about something as denoting other things.
• 1.8k
But we can even challenge or doubt that "Objective Reality exists", so "objective truth exists" is not an objective truth, it is a personal truth.leo

It seems a shame to delve into the one and only statement of Objective Truth that can - knowingly and correctly - be made by a human. Personally, I am convinced that we can deduce from the cogito - despite problems with "Who is this 'I'?", and so forth - that something has actual (Objective) existence. Therefore Objective Reality exists, and that something is all or part of it. But there are no other such claims to Objective correctness that a human can knowingly make. That's why what-we-might-call hard Objectivity is so pointless. It can only ever apply to issues that are hypothetical, and must remain so.

It seems to me that the concept is used by people who want to impose their personal truth on others, as if they had a transcendent access to a supposed objective reality beyond perception.leo

:up: That is surely one possible explanation. It's the one I personally favour, but I have no Objective evidence, obviously, so.... :wink: :lol:

we'd be better off simply talking about personal truth, and not pretend that our personal truths somehow apply to everyone and everything.leo

Again, how could I disagree? :up: :wink:
• 621
How would that work? We'd need to be able to describe/detail the process.

The dog is on the rug. If the dog is on the rug, then that proposition matches a fact. If it isn’t, it doesn’t. I’m not seeing where I come in to that matching process.
• 13.8k
The dog is on the rug. If the dog is on the rug, then that proposition matches a fact. If it isn’t, it doesn’t. I’m not seeing where I come in to that matching process.AJJ
Right, so we're talking about what matching, text marks that look like this: "The dog is on the rug"? Those sounds, or what?

We can't be talking about meaning, which is what is usually taken to be what a proposition is, because meaning is a mental phenomenon. Otherwise, if you're going to argue that we can somehow have extramental meaning, then you'd need to present the argument for that (and I'll offer my objections as you present the argument, because I don't believe that there's any way to make sense of meaning being something extramental, and I'm familiar with all of the standard tactics/arguments.)
• 621

You said above that propositions are the meanings of statements. So I’m talking about the meaning of those words matching a fact.
• 13.8k

I just added this while you were typing:

We can't be talking about meaning, which is what is usually taken to be what a proposition is, because meaning is a mental phenomenon. Otherwise, if you're going to argue that we can somehow have extramental meaning, then you'd need to present the argument for that (and I'll offer my objections as you present the argument, because I don't believe that there's any way to make sense of meaning being something extramental, and I'm familiar with all of the standard tactics/arguments.)
• 621

I don’t think meaning is extramental. I’m saying once a meaning/proposition such as “the dog is on the rug” is created, whether it matches a fact or not does not actually depend on whether we think it does.
• 13.8k
I don’t think meaning is extramental.AJJ

I do, and I don't think there's any way to make it extramental at any point.

You'd need to argue how it can be extramental or at least how it can be made extramental.
• 621

Even assuming the obvious misreading (I said I don’t think meaning is extramental) your response seems strange... A misreading and a typo?
• 13.8k

Yeah, I read you as saying that you don't think that meaning is mental.

So once a meaning is created, which is an event in someone's head, then the way that we can extramentally see if a fact matches the proposition is . . . what?
• 621
So once a meaning is created, which is an event in someone's head, then the way that we can extramentally see if a fact matches the proposition is . . . what?

We don’t recognise the match extramentally, but there’s the point: The match is something we recognise, rather than cause. The match is independent of our mental recognition of it.
• 13.8k
The match is independent of our mental recognition of it.AJJ

Again, we need to detail how. So pick an example and detail it.

It doesn't work to just claim that it's the case. That's not good enough. I can just claim that it's not the case. Is that good enough? Detail how it's supposed to work with an example. I can suggest an example if you like.
• 621

I’ve given an example. Your response was to basically insist I was arguing meaning to be extramental, when there was no indication I was.

The dog is on the rug. If the dog is on the rug, then that proposition matches a fact. If it isn’t, it doesn’t. I’m not seeing where I come in to that matching process.
• 3.1k
I find that option no less plausible than believing the experiences we have in common stem from a world that exists independently of us. I am sure that I have experiences, I am confident that others have some experiences in common with me, I am less certain that these experiences stem from a world independent of us (as in a world that doesn't depend on minds).

I have evidence of mind (my own), I don't have evidence of something that doesn't depend on mind.
leo

When you go to sleep, do you need someone to observe you to maintain your existence so that you can wake up later? What happens to us when we go to sleep by ourselves?

It is inconsistent to be confident in the existence of other minds when the only evidence you have are the observations of the behavior of other bodies (you never observe other minds), and yet claim that you can't be sure that your experiences are of a world that exists independent of your observations of it.

What makes you confident that minds (whose properties you can't observe) exists, but not so confident the actual bodies (with properties that you do observe) exists when you aren't looking?

What is the medium that separates minds and why would any separate mind have common experiences?
• 412
tl;idrtwd

All knowledge that a person has of the world stems from subjective experience. There is no such thing as "objective truth".
• 3.6k
There is no such thing as "objective truth".

And I take it you inferred this universal property of subjective experience, which will always and forever limit them, irrelevant of their content... from subjective experience.
• 33
The issue I see with calling these objective truth is, I am sure this is true to you, and I am sure you think this is true in general, but what if I don't know what these symbols mean?leo

This has no bearing on whether or not a proposition is objective or whether or not it is true (or false). A proposition can be objective even if a person fails to understand it.

What if these arrows, chevrons and parentheses do not evoke anything in me beyond shapes drawn on a screen? Then these statements wouldn't be true to me, they would be drawings, and while I could say it is true to me that I see these drawings, I couldn't say these drawings refer to some independent truth.leo

It doesn't matter whether you recognize the truth of said propositions. Again, a proposition can be true (or false) regardless of whether any particular person recognizes its truth.

and I too could create my own system in which I assign truth to such or such proposition, but that doesn't mean that the truth of these propositions would extend beyond the system they were formulated in.leo

The point of the proposition I highlighted is that it is true on any possible truth-value assignments for its subterms $P$ or $Q$.

Perhaps you meant you could devise a logical system in which the logical constants behave differently, i.e., you could define different truth-functions. But no matter how you define them, there would be a corresponding truth-function (or complex of truth-functions) in the propositional logic that would behave exactly the same way.

Because the way I see it, such a system was created out of perceptions and thoughts, and it doesn't apply to people who have perceptions/thoughts incompatible with itleo

Again, people may simply be mistaken. This happens all the time.

It seems inevitable to me that truth is personal, that we can't find a truth that applies to everyoneleo

What might be inevitable is that not all people will agree, but it doesn't follow from this that there aren't objective truths. Again, something can be objectively true despite the fact that many people disagree about the truth of the proposition in question.

What if some great catastrophe occurred in Africa very recently and I am not yet aware of it and it turns out all lions are dead?leo

Then the proposition would, in fact, be false (but still objective). It would be objectively false. It would not matter what you knew or did not know at the time of asserting the given propositions.

Propositions are made true or false by facts/states of affairs, which are independent of the epistemological state of any person asserting a proposition.

Or what if I consider that it is meaningless to talk about what goes on in a place "at this moment" if I am not in that place?leo

This would be a mistake. I can most definitely construct grammatically well-formed and truth-evaluable sentences about places I am not currently in.

People could very well disagree with that proposition in a reasonable way according to themleo

The mistake you are making is in supposing that what is reasonable is internal to an individual. It is not. Norms of logic are constitutive of rationality and, thus, what is reasonable. One cannot deny these norms and claim to be thinking.
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