Truth

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  • Janus
    8.9k
    Though, I think that so long as we agree that there really were dinosaurs before humans (not just counterfactual "things which would appear as dinosaurs"), we're in agreement.fdrake

    The different locution is only to emphasize that we are not warranted in assuming the naive realist view that there are real things, absent us, that are uniquely and exhaustively just as they appear to us. Of course we can in the ordinary sense rightly say "there really were dinosaurs" in other words, but that way of speaking easily leads to reificational thinking as to what exists, and how it exists, absent human perception. It's really not an accurate way of speaking insofar as there being dinosaurs, in the way we understand that being, is a relational, not an absolute, fact.
  • Nagase
    145


    You're welcome! As for my own stance, well, this is completely unrelated to the thread at hand, and is rather complicated. I think truth-theoretical semantics is too apart from linguistic research; in particular, it is too apart from what people like Chomsky are doing, so that there is little to no syntax-semantics interface (Davidson has some half-heart remarks in this regard in "Semantics for Natural Languages", but even those remarks show that he was not interested in this kind of problem). Moreover, I have no behavioristic aspersions to intensional idioms, so I see no reason not to employ propositions, meanings, etc., as needed. So I tend to think a more faithful model for natural language semantics is given by something like Montague Grammar or something similar.
  • frank
    4.6k
    Cool. I think that's mostly over my head, but I'd like to read something about the syntax/semantic interface.
  • frank
    4.6k
    Do you know of any amateur-friendly information about the syntax/semantic interface?
  • Daz
    34
    What is "the cat"? What is "the mat"?

    Most of the time, we know what these words mean. But what about (let's take the mat) when the mat is being fabricated?

    If we don't know exactly when the mat-in-process-of-being-manufactured is in fact a mat, then we don't *really* know what the mat is. (Same thing with a cat as it's being biologically conceived and developing in the womb, or as it is dying, let's hope at a ripe old age.) Or the mat when it is falling apart eventually.

    Cats and mats have not only spatial but also temporal extents ... but we don't know what those extents are. (Or as the cat is digesting and assimilating its food, when exactly does the food become the cat?)

    The fact that these questions have no clear answers means that the truth (or not) of a simple statement like "The cat is on the mat" is much less clear than it may first appear.
  • Echarmion
    1.2k
    If we don't know exactly when the mat-in-process-of-being-manufactured is in fact a mat, then we don't *really* know what the mat is. (Same thing with a cat as it's being biologically conceived and developing in the womb, or as it is dying, let's hope at a ripe old age.) Or the mat when it is falling apart eventually.

    Cats and mats have not only spatial but also temporal extents ... but we don't know what those extents are. (Or as the cat is digesting and assimilating its food, when exactly does the food become the cat?)

    The fact that these questions have no clear answers means that the truth (or not) of a simple statement like "The cat is on the mat" is much less clear than it may first appear.
    Daz

    I think you're unnecessarily imbuing the terms "mat" and "cat" with some sort of essential "mat-ness" and "cat-ness". The problem you're describing disappears when we simply accept the terms "mat" and "cat" as fuzzy categories meant to simplify communication. As long as we can describe the exact physical characteristics of whatever we are talking about, the name we give it is irrelevant.
  • Daz
    34
    What was the question again? Truth? Who said anything about being able to "describe the exact physical characteristics" of the cat or the mat?

    Are we talking about how to communicate conveniently, or are we discussing what truth consists of? I thought it was the latter.
  • Echarmion
    1.2k
    What was the question again? Truth? Who said anything about being able to "describe the exact physical characteristics" of the cat or the mat?

    Are we talking about how to communicate conveniently, or are we discussing what truth consists of? I thought it was the latter.
    Daz

    And my point was that the conventions in place to allow convenient communication don't change what the truth is. If you refer to one thing as a "mat", and I to another, the problem isn't to find truth, but to fix the misunderstanding.
  • TheMadFool
    5.4k


    There is reality, then the way this reality is perceived, then there are words aimed at expressing that which is perceived. Words are truthful or not to the extent they reflect reality. Yet, as we've seen there is the world of perception between reality and words and there's no guarantee that what is perceived is reality. Ergo, it must be that words can only be of perception and not of reality. If so, there can be no truths if meant as of reality and all that maybe achieved is words capturing perception, that and that alone is possible. Is this the veil of perception?
  • Daz
    34
    Well, to say "The cat is on the mat" means I'm thinking of a certain thing that is a cat, and of another thing that is a mat, and the first thing is on the second thing."

    But my point was that this kind of statement is slippery since both cats and mats are not clearly defined.
  • christian2017
    1.2k


    We all by the age of 5 know some truth. 1 + 1 =2 . The definition of 4 is 3 + 1. Some basic truths are just intuitive. All complex truths are based on simple truths.
  • Cabbage Farmer
    248
    #1 How can one know what truth is, without knowing what truth is in the first place?Monist
    Our talk about truth is informed by our grasp of the facts.

    Truth and falsehood are values we assign to judgments and statements. We don't fabricate these values out of whole cloth. They arise from features of experience common to human beings and other rational animals.

    Sometimes our perceptual judgments turn out to be correct, other times incorrect. We recognize this distinction in experience. It is reflected in our talk of truth and falsehood.

    Sometimes an expectation we have, or an outcome we conceive ahead of time, is fulfilled in the course of events; other times the course of events runs contrary to that expectation or conceived outcome. We recognize this distinction in experience. It is reflected in our talk of truth and falsehood.

    Such ordinary experiences inform ordinary use of the term "truth", and guide our application of that term in assessing the truth and falsehood of judgments in a wide range of particular cases.

    Special problems arise when it's not clear that there is a criterion according to which we may distinguish true judgments from false judgments. Some of these problems motivate a distinction between matters of fact on the one hand, and matters of taste and value on the other, and likewise a distinction between matters of fact that can be determined on the basis of evidence and matters of fact that cannot be determined on the basis of evidence.

    Similar question #2 Can we justify justification?Monist
    Yes, on similar grounds. But all justification comes to an end somewhere.

    There are always conceivable questions, alternatives, and doubts that cannot be definitively ruled out by justifications.

    That's not a philosophical problem. It's a fact of life for minds like ours.
  • creativesoul
    7.9k
    P is the proposition that there were dinosaurs during the Triassic. Even if a sentence that expresses P was never uttered at any time, P would still be truth-apt.

    This is realism. Notice the cost of it.
    frank

    If that is realism, carte blanche, then I'm certainly no realist. Statements do not express propositions. They express thought and belief. There are no exceptions.

    Propositions consist of words about stuff. There are no exceptions.

    States of affairs are not propositions. States of affairs are what has happened and/or is currently happening. Propositions are about states of affairs.

    "Proposition" is a name that we've given to a variety of different things.

    Some things named existed in their entirety prior to our name, while others... well... not so much.

    "Truth" is also - perhaps most often - used as a name.

    As skirted around above... The interesting part of examining names is taking proper account of that which is being given the name. Some things named exist in their entirety prior to the name. Others do not.

    "Truth" the term, when used to name correspondence between thought and belief about what's happened and/or is happening and what's happened and/or is happening is being used to pick out a relationship between thought or belief and reality(states of affairs) that exists in it's entirety prior to the term itself.

    Thought or belief and statements thereof can be true. Correspondence between thought or belief and states of affairs is precisely what makes them true. A lack thereof, is precisely what makes them false. Let me digress...

    The problem with the notion of "propositions" is that they do not offer adequate enough account of meaning and what it consists of. For if they did, they would know that meaning is not the sort of thing that can be carried.

    The reason why several languages express the same thing - called "a proposition" by those who do not know better - is because we share a world and what's being expressed in different languages is nothing more than talking about the same things.

    Venus.
  • creativesoul
    7.9k
    Sometimes an expectation we have, or an outcome we conceive ahead of time, is fulfilled in the course of events; other times the course of events runs contrary to that expectation or conceived outcome. We recognize this distinction in experience. It is reflected in our talk of truth and falsehood.Cabbage Farmer

    Yup.

    Predictions, in particular, are verified/falsified in just the same manner. Of course, we develop expectations long before we can begin performing experiments to test our predictive powers. That's just one part of it all though.

    Expectations can become true(or not). Statements about what has already happened and/or is currently happening are already true(or not).

    The key in understanding the role that truth plays in all thought, belief, and statements thereof(including but not necessarily limited to expectations(prediction)... is... I think... taking proper account of the common denominator... thought or belief.

    That's what can be be true(or not), but not all of them...

    Expectations, while they definitely consist of thought and belief, are not true or false - nor can they be - because they are about what has not yet happened. They are thought and belief about what's to come. They are thought and belief about future events; what's going to happen.

    Expectations/predictions cannot be either true or false because there are no states of affairs for them to correspond to(or not). That particular time has not yet come/arrived.
  • creativesoul
    7.9k
    We don't fabricate these values out of whole cloth.Cabbage Farmer

    Exactly.

    True and false belief exist in their entirety long before we become aware of them.
  • frank
    4.6k
    They express thought and belief.creativesoul

    Beliefs can be used as truthbearers. If we exclude all others, it would appear that truth is only about living things.

    That would be a kind of anti-realism.
  • creativesoul
    7.9k
    Beliefs can be used as truthbearersfrank

    Well, from what I remember about the notion(the academic one), I do not agree with the notion of "truthbearer"...

    But yes, not that I care, but I've been called an anti-realist. Do not think that my position aligns with any of the well trodden academic names though. Actually, I know it doesn't, but it makes no difference to me.

    Events are currently showing all of us how important thought, belief, meaning and truth are...
  • Borraz
    29
    The truth is like a bus. At every stop, some things get on and some things get off. But the route is always unique.
  • Cabbage Farmer
    248
    The key in understanding the role that truth plays in all thought, belief, and statements thereof(including but not necessarily limited to expectations(prediction)... is... I think... taking proper account of the common denominator... thought or belief.

    That's what can be be true(or not), but not all of them...
    creativesoul
    Somewhere down the line I became accustomed to using the term "judgment" to indicate the thing that's said to be true or false in a wide range of contexts, even in some cases where there is no linguistic expression, even in some cases where there is no language.

    It may be this habit of mine has been influenced by talk among philosophers of "perceptual judgment".

    I'm content to say that beliefs, judgments, assertions, and thoughts that resemble such things, are among the things we call true or false.

    I might say some thoughts do not resemble assertions and have no truth value; it depends on how we decide to use the word "thought". Perhaps I leave this undetermined in my own use of the term, to accommodate the wide variety of uses I encounter in the speech of others.

    It seems truth value is also implicated in the distinction between perception and misperception. Perhaps we should say it's the "perceptual judgment" involved in an instance of perception or misperception that bears the truth value?

    Expectations, while they definitely consist of thought and belief, are not true or false - nor can they be - because they are about what has not yet happened. They are thought and belief about what's to come. They are thought and belief about future events; what's going to happen.

    Expectations/predictions cannot be either true or false because there are no states of affairs for them to correspond to(or not). That particular time has not yet come/arrived.
    creativesoul
    I see no reason to say that truth values of assertions about states of affairs blink in and out of existence along with the corresponding states of affairs. But what difference would this theoretical construct make for us, as speakers who make assertions about states of affairs, who test and try such assertions, who affirm and deny and suspend judgment on such assertions?

    It's surely true that, from our point of view as human animals, the future is yet to come and the past is no longer.

    I'm not sure this entails that the truth value of assertions about future states of affairs is yet to come, nor that the truth value of assertions about past states of affairs is no longer.

    I might be content to say our assertions about future and past states of affairs are true or false when we assert them, though we can't observe the relevant states of affairs at the time of assertion. I suppose this plight would be at least somewhat analogous to our plight in making assertions about current states of affairs in places we cannot observe at the time of assertion.

    In any case, to speak of things like "truth values" in this way is to speak of abstractions. I'm not sure it matters how we work out such details, and I'm not sure there are objective criteria according to which we can definitively resolve divergent accounts in such matters. To me it seems preferable to follow Ockham's advice in such discursive contexts, and favor the simplest among accounts of equal utility.
  • creativesoul
    7.9k
    The key in understanding the role that truth plays in all thought, belief, and statements thereof(including but not necessarily limited to expectations(prediction)... is... I think... taking proper account of the common denominator... thought or belief.

    That's what can be be true(or not), but not all of them...
    — creativesoul
    Somewhere down the line I became accustomed to using the term "judgment" to indicate the thing that's said to be true or false in a wide range of contexts, even in some cases where there is no linguistic expression, even in some cases where there is no language.
    Cabbage Farmer

    In short, judgment is a metacognitive endeavor and as such it requires pre-existing thought and belief, and the ability/faculty for thinking about thought and belief and/or reports/accounts thereof.

    "Judgment", on my view, refers to quite a complex thought or belief process. It is to assent/dissent to some statement or other, which involves focused deliberation and/or contemplation of whether or not some thought or belief, as expressed by the statement thereof, is true/false. Done well, it includes knowing what it would take in order for the statement under consideration to be so, in addition to knowing whether or not such conditions have been or could be met. As such, it requires language use replete with the ability to think about thought and belief itself in addition to some awareness and/or knowledge of which ones can be true(are truth-apt) and what makes them so. As a result, I find that judgment is not even possible for language less creatures, whereas some other kinds of thought and belief most certainly are.




    It may be this habit of mine has been influenced by talk among philosophers of "perceptual judgment".

    I'm content to say that beliefs, judgments, assertions, and thoughts that resemble such things, are among the things we call true or false.
    Cabbage Farmer

    It's commonplace for philosophers to talk of perception in ways that I reject. The term itself is a catch-all which is often used in ways that conflate simple and complex thought or belief with each other. This shows itself throughout history by subsuming simple language less thought and belief as well as very complex linguistically informed thought and belief into the same category. In doing so the crucial distinction between kinds of thought and belief is lost along with the ability to properly account for them. Be that as it may..

    Perhaps saying that beliefs, judgments, assertions, and thoughts are among the things we call "true" or "false" is as good a starting point as any.




    I might say some thoughts do not resemble assertions and have no truth value; it depends on how we decide to use the word "thought". Perhaps I leave this undetermined in my own use of the term, to accommodate the wide variety of uses I encounter in the speech of others.Cabbage Farmer

    Perfectly understandable, and I would agree that not all thoughts(thought) are(is) truth apt without hesitation. The very notion of "truth value" causes me serious pause however...



    It seems truth value is also implicated in the distinction between perception and misperception. Perhaps we should say it's the "perceptual judgment" involved in an instance of perception or misperception that bears the truth value?

    ...as does the idea of bearing truth value.



    I'll attend to the rest of your reply later. It takes an interesting path and deserves separation from the above part.
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