User:Evarenon/sandbox/Approaches to Knowledge/Seminar Group 3/Truth

Concept break down edit

Concept formation: unpacking the "truth" of concepts
Essential attributes Non-contradictory Objective Verifiable Discovered not invented Consistent Practical Incontestable
Non-essential attributes Universal (in a given system) Coherent Infinite and always evolving Majority agrees (truth by consensus) Always existing Demonstrable Non-Partial Independant
Indicators (if applicable)

Discussion edit

Verifiability (Camilla and Camille): edit

The attribute of verifiability of truth is one that is deemed necessary. But something true doesn't have to have been verified but has to be verifiable (hypothetically). To verify if something is true, there is a need for observation and theory. We cannot assume any proposition is verified only with experience, or only with knowledge. Truth can also only be verified in a certain frame of pre-existing knowledge. Falsification can be considered as a subsection to verifiability. Verifying claims, particularly non-quantitative ones, does not always result in a clear understanding of their "truths". To aid in this, a lot more focus is placed upon the process of verification. This line of approach is often taken by behaviourists and in operational analyses of meanings.

Universalism (Laura, Emilie and Lily): edit

The attribute of universalism in the realm on truth is much contested by these readings with readings 1 and 2 questioning the concept of universalism in much more concrete areas such as moral values and philosophy, if there is no such thing as universality in our moral values and our philosophies then how can there possibly be universality in truth. This follows onto Nietzsche's thoughts about the entire subject of truth, are the things we uphold as truths really 'truth' or are we simply using metaphors and illusions? Is a universal truth something that it is tethered to us as the human race or does it extend beyond our species to a 'truth' upheld by the entire universe?

Majority Agrees (Truth by Consensus) (LI and Guan): edit

Truth by consensus can be deemed as a non-essential attribute when we are defining the concept of “truth”. Consensual truth can challenge the ideal of “definite truth”, which can be deemed as the more common “truth” we come across, such as in Science. However, truth by consensus has been on the rise given the availability of access to “information”, which results in the phenomena of “fake news”. In all three articles, the authors argue that consensual truth is not an essential attribute, as it may not be completely objective and may be coloured by one’s identity. Despite this, consensual truth is not easy to correct, as pointed out in one of the readings, due to the different levels of one’s cognitive ability and the overload of information and difficulty in discerning the “truth” from false.

Social Constructs of Truth (Amber, Jordan and Eesha): edit

Truth may not be an objective entity, but rather a notion that evolves through the changing perception of society. As society develops over time, its notion of truth and our perception of validity, suggesting that true objectivity cannot be achieved as truth is socially constructed and is always dependent on the perspective of society at any given time.

Truth is infinite and always evolving (Tancrede and Hadrien): edit

There is a debate whether or not objective truth is reachable for humans. If you think not because we can only interpret our reality from our own subjective, human and personal perspective, and that a truth is suppose to be true despite any subjective factor, than truth is something infinite as nether really reached. Moreover, it makes truth always evolving from one person to another.

Without going this far, we can still stay truth is infinite because even very intuitive and evident truths can be rationally contested. For instance, Irish philosopher Berkeley contested the existence of material reality, making perception and mind the only valuable reality.

Furthermore, truth is infinite and always evolving because it is often a matter of interpretation and evalution. In History for instance, historical sources might often contradict or be incomplete, and others source might have been destroyed, making it very difficult for historians to sort out the historical truth. According to a paper by the website History Today, even the same source can lead to different conclusions depending on the interpretation.

Finally, infinite and always evolving are attributes of truth as we shouldn't consider truth as something fixed. A possible definition of truth is adequacy to reality. However, with the expansion of accessible knowledge thanks notably to technological progress and taking in account personal perspectives, what seems to be the most adequate to reality always evolves. In science for instance, a theory is considered as true as long as it is the one that explains the best what we can observe and experience. In this way, Einstein's theory "chased" Newton's, and will certainly be chased one day by another one.

Coherence (Maeve and Ryan) edit

Based on the argument presented by Russell, ‘coherence’ is an attribute of truth that is not essential. The coherence theory fails to account for the existence of more than one set of coherent beliefs and if there is only one universal truth, neither sets can be true. The consequences of looking at coherent beliefs as ‘truth’ is that one would fail to recognize the beliefs of others if they do not cohere. However, this view on truth could suggest that there is not one universal truth, but that truth is subjective.

Another way of viewing coherence in truth within my chosen article would be to consider it truth in terms of interconnected belief, wherein a belief may be true if it is consistent or, coherent, with other ideas we have. In the realm of this article, the nature of coherent truth would be revealed by the use of complex metaphors consisting of varying other overlaying conceptual truths. A conceptual metaphor does not rely upon the existence of a consistency with other similar ideas so Brown in a way refutes the conceptual idea of truth as coherent. It could be argued that an issue lies within this argument in that Brown talks more of the manner in which truth is consumed rather than the nature of the truth being consumed. Although conceptual metaphors provide an excellent mechanism for facilitating a comprehensible perception of truth, a concept refers only to an individual truth or a small cluster, whereas it could be said that the collective truth we are discussing requires an endlessly collective consortium of metaphorical concepts, something that is not possible.

Our readings edit

Reference, authors, year and link Main argument To which attribute (or specific aspect of truth does this source relates to)
Verifiability, truth and verification - Ernest Nagel Uclqffb (discusscontribs) 10:12, 21 October 2018 (UTC)
  • To say that a statement is “true”, there is a need for experience and knowledge - for observation and theory
  • Any verification process has value only within a system, a frame of pre-existing knowledge
Notes on the pragmatic theory of truth - Moreland Perkins Uclqffb (discusscontribs) 10:23, 21 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Pragmatic theory of truth says that truth is the same thing as verification, truth is the useful, or satisfactory (in beliefs), and that truth is not fixed or eternal
  • But many things seen as true have never been verified, and this therefor goes against the law of no-contradiction
  • Truth is something that is “verifiable” and not “verified”
Universalism and African philosophy, Bernard Matolino, South African Journal of Philosophy Lsythes (discusscontribs) 14:38, 21 October 2018 (UTC) This article focuses on universalism in philosophy, however a lot of the points have great relevance in the issue of truth. The article doesn't disagree with universalism per se but merely points out that sometimes one approach cannot be applied universally but rather the real differences between people and societies needs to be acknowledged. Universalism
Universalism values and the inclusiveness of our moral universe, Shalom H. Schwartz, Journal of Cross-cultural Psychology Lsythes (discusscontribs) 14:38, 21 October 2018 (UTC) This paper investigates the different moral values that people hold and how societal factors influence how people view 'moral inclusiveness'  for example whether they extend their moral values to all members of society or just a certain subset. These themes could also be applied to truth and whether the same truth extends to everyone or whether certain sociopolitical factors can influence whether the same truth applies to and is upheld by all members of society. Universalism
On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense, Friedrich Nietzsche, 1873 Lsythes (discusscontribs) 14:38, 21 October 2018 (UTC) "If I make up the definition of a mammal, and then, after inspecting a camel, declare "look, a mammal' I have indeed brought a truth to light in this way, but it is a truth of limited value. That is to say, it is a thoroughly anthropomorphic truth which contains not a single point which would be "true in itself" or really and universally valid apart from man."

This quote from Nietzsche shows how he is questioning the concept of universality and whether something upheld as 'truth' by all humans is in fact universally true or whether we have simply decided it is true and this truth has no value outside of the context we have given it. Names are metaphors and knowing the name of something or assigning a name doesn't give us anymore truth about what we are naming.

Absolute Truth, Relative Reality, and Meaningful Events, A. G. Ramsperger, 1951

This article disputes the premise that there are no absolute truths, only relative ones because humankind is unable to transcend its own subjective views. Indeed, it defines truth as something which is inherently not relative and unaffected by uncertainty, even if it describes something relative. In the article, things are considered to be true if the events they refer to exist, or would exist, in the supposed assumed context. As a result, truth is seen a wide-sweeping concept which relates not only to an objective, independent reality, but also to events occurring in relation to observers (including thoughts and imagination).

Concepts of Relative Truth, Jack W. Meiland, 1977

This article examines relativistic conceptions of truth, which often oppose the idea that universal truths exist. The relativist view of truth is often not taken too seriously and oversimplified, resulting in criticisms (made by  those supporting absolute (or universal) conceptions of truth) based on its apparent incoherence or circularity of argument. However, due to the article's more careful examination and explanation of relative truth, it is shown that many of these critiques are easily refuted, and that relative truth is actually a much more robust concept than is usually thought.

Is there a Universal positivity bias in attributions?A Meta-Analytic Review of Individual, Developmental, and Cultural Differences in the Self-Serving Attributional Bias This article examines the theory that humans may be more inclined to believe and support positive aspects and events, which may reflect upon themselves. It goes further to investigate whether this a universal phenomenon or something derived from nurture in culture, as a lot of their study was built from the research of Western cultures and their statistics. Therefore it brings to question - is there a certain demographic that adheres most to the theory of positive biased? Does it define what we 'decide' to believe as fact? We can ask whether optimisism is a downfall in our perception of truth?


Maevethomas (discusscontribs) 10:59, 22 October 2018 (UTC)

Russell argues that we can believe things whether they are true or false. Since many people have different and sometimes incompatible beliefs, some must be incorrect. Russell objects the coherence theory of truth and therefore objects to ‘truth’ being coherent. His first refute is that more than one set of coherent beliefs exist. For example, more than one hypothesis can fit the given facts. Secondly, the coherence theory can not show that the law of noncontradiction is true. Coherence
Making Truth: Metaphor in Science, book by Theodore L. Brown, article by Jeffrey Kovac This article details the use of of conceptual metaphors as a method of explaining complex concepts, making them comprehensible. When something is coherent, "it is clear and carefully considered, and each part of it connects or follows in a natural or reasonable way".

When examining truth, coherence would denote a logical sequence of empirical evidence. In this article, the main argument is that "scientists understand nature largely through metaphorical constructs". This applies to coherence because a metaphorical construct is representative of a need for truth to be coherent and understandable.


‘Fake news’: Incorrect, but hard to correct

Main argument: The article used fake new as an example and stressed an individual's level of cognitive ability, which plays an important role in deeming some kind of “consensual truth” as “scientific truth”. With high-tech, the phenomenon of false information and influence on attitude formation has become highly relevant. By identifying linger relations, the present study provides a significant basis to enhance our understanding of the impact and solutions to correcting fake news through high-profile contemporary events.

Truth by Consensus

Challenging the Majority Rules in Matters of Truth In this article, the author challenges the idea that the majority being correct will be the ‘truth’. The author argues that there is in face a greater reason to mistrust the majority rule based on a logical calculation of mathematical probability and the type 1 and 2 errors. The author also made a clear distinction between democracy (i.e majority rule) and truth, stating that the former is of a normative standard and should not be used as a basis for truth. Truth by Consensus
Habermas' Consensus Theory of Truth The author unpacks the idea of truth and consensus of it within a community and how language affects truth in this article. Given that language can be coloured with theoretical tradition, it will hence affect the objectivity of truth, especially within a community. Hence, it is more plausible to argue that the objectivity of statements may not be well-preserved - especially for “truths” within a community based on consensus - and that it is affected by individual identity. Truth by Consensus
A Social History of Truth, Steven Sharpin, 1994 In searching for truth in knowledge, we rely on others, as knowledge is a collective. This relationship between truth and people gives truth a social element. Truth may not be objective, but rather socially subjective. This leads to the evolution of truth over time. Social constructs
The social Construction of Validity, Steinar Kvale Validity is named as an essential aspect of truth, yet the perception of validity evolves over time. Modern concepts of truth involved the belief in objectivity and objective truths. However, the post-modernist view adopts the notion that objectivity is unachievable, and knowledge is not a fixed reality, but rather, is a communal construction of reality. This therefore suggests that what is true is dependent on society. Social constructs
The Creation of "Truth" by Social Scientists and Planners: Assumptions, Decisions, and the Negotiation of Reality, Jerry A. Moles Ideas of truth are created in response to knowledge, which is a construct determined by our experiences. As experiences differ, truth is subjective, and so collective knowledge is created as society attempts to solve the problems it faces. This leads to knowledge systems often ignoring conflicting points of view, and therefore multiple versions of the “truth”.  Therefore, as truth is a social construct it is not universal, so knowledge based on subjective truth cannot be viewed as universal. Social constructs
Berkeley's Argument for Immaterialism A.C. Graylingg 18th century philosopher Berkeley contested the existence of materialism, arguing that the only reality was in perception, in mind. This shows how very instinctive and admitted theories - in this case simply saying that things exist materially - can be opposed, or at least contested in their value of truth. If even truths such as "things exist" can be contested in a very rational, argued and philosophical theory, doesn't this show truth is infinite and possibly always contested thus evolving? Infinite and always evolving
Truth and Relativity 24 July 2000 Einstein's Relativity theory revolutionized science by giving a new explanation on concepts such as time, space or gravity, but also because it contradicted other scientific theories established by Galileo, Newton... Taking this example, this paper argues that a scientific theory is always true until another new theory, often helped by new experiments and new technological progress, seems to more fit the reality (considering that coherence with reality is a possible definition of truth). Infinite and always evolving
Suzannah Lipscomb 28 January 2016 Even though historians aim at truth but their conclusions may differ. This paradox comes a partly interpretation-based work which leads different insights. Infinite and always evolving