1

I am writing an essay how there can be disagreement when people or experts are provided with the same facts. Now I mentioned that while the same facts might be present, the truth people might interpret from these facts are much more malleable than the fact themselves and can thus lead to different truths. Now, I was wondering whether this statement is correct, and if anyone could provide an accurate description of the notion of truth.

4

3 Answers 3

2

I don't think anything formal will be of much help here so I'll stick to heuristics.

There is no difference between a statement being in fact the case and that statement being true. In general, a proposition is true if and only if it corresponds to some feature of the real world. So the statement "snow is white" is true if and only if snow is in fact white.

The problem is in your statement the truth people might interpret from these facts are much more malleable than the fact themselves and can thus lead to different truths. You're saying truth, but in the common account, truth is singular---the world is only one way at a given time. What would it even mean to say otherwise? I think you really mean belief. To believe a proposition is to assert that it is true. It's obvious that people do believe different things about the world, but it does not follow that they are all correct.

People want to have true beliefs, so they form new beliefs based on what they take to be true. Now there are some things we know to be true with certainty. Everybody can agree that all bachelors are unmarried, because that's just what it means to be a bachelor. However most of the things we want to say about the world are not known with absolute certainty. We don't have every relevant piece of information.

For instance, if there's a chair in the room, it could be there because Alice put it there, or it could be there because Bob put it there, but as long as you didn't see either of them walking in with the chair, you could reasonably say that either of them did it. As for the reason you would come down on one side rather than the other...

Well, the actual essay is yours to write, so I'll go no further, but good luck! You're on a really interesting path.

5
  • 2
    minor point: things are neither true nor false, statements about things are.
    – MmmHmm
    Mar 9, 2017 at 4:08
  • 1
    True, edited for clarity.
    – Canyon
    Mar 9, 2017 at 4:10
  • True that, homie.
    – MmmHmm
    Mar 9, 2017 at 4:11
  • 1
    Your answer misses some more epistemological issues such as that "snow is white" cannot be known to be always true (tomorrow snow could be black and no-one can know it in advance, or you might find snow that's dirty and that's not white). Also while there exists beliefs, beliefs themselves can be difficult to categorize as factual or non-factual, because there are topics (e.g. love, attraction, happiness) that don't even need objective factuality, but subjective feeling can be enough. Also I don't think your claim about "there are rarely enough facts", particularly "rarely", is demonstrated.
    – mavavilj
    Mar 9, 2017 at 5:44
  • 2
    That truth is indexical is neither here nor there. Nor is this a detailed discussion of belief. OP is just asking for what something means to be true. As to your last point, though, I agree, and I've both softened my language and added an example.
    – Canyon
    Mar 9, 2017 at 6:16
0

I am writing an essay how there can be disagreement when people or experts are provided with the same facts. Now I mentioned that while the same facts might be present, the truth people might interpret from these facts are much more malleable than the fact themselves and can thus lead to different truths. Now, I was wondering whether this statement is correct, and if anyone could provide an accurate description of the notion of truth.

I agree that it's possible to infer multiple truths from the same set of premises and the way it occurs is that such statements (but not all) allow for some interpretation. Examples of these kind of statements would involve statements that involve some sort of subjectivity or preference. Then of course you would get different answers depending on how people prefer or "weight" different parts of the statements. All of the derived interpretations might even be "true", because subjectivity can be in many cases considered to be true (what's subjective does not necessarily need objective validation, but rather is "subjectively true").

However, one should note that when one deviates from strict logical inferring (e.g. binary logic), then it can lead to less precision. Since "higher order" semantics deal more with things that have no strict right/wrong, but multiple rights/wrongs and "shades of grey between black and white".

One advancement in interpretation of higher order semantical truth might come from using computers and higher order logics. Logics such as modal logic have been studied e.g. for inferring natural language (or "real world") statements more holistically. However, language, culture and life are so complicated in some cases that no model works exactly.

Regarding "what is an accurate description of truth", this is too broad question, because there are multiple definitions of what works as truth. See for example this for a brief list of such theories:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology

9
  • How does this answer address the question, "What is an accurate description of truth?" Also, when you say "right/wrong" do you mean "true or false"?
    – MmmHmm
    Mar 9, 2017 at 5:53
  • @Mr.Kennedy It definitely addresses the question about inferring multiple truths from the same set of facts or premises. I think right and wrong have larger application than just true and false, because true or false don't really hold notions about ethics or subjectivity, whereas right and wrong certainly do.
    – mavavilj
    Mar 9, 2017 at 5:55
  • Then how would you describe truth?
    – MmmHmm
    Mar 9, 2017 at 6:01
  • @Mr.Kennedy That which is in accord to some definition of truth that's used (there are many working conceptions of truth, not all truths are formed or "validated" using the same methodology.
    – mavavilj
    Mar 9, 2017 at 8:05
  • So you'd describe truth as accordance with truth - whatever truth is defined as or however the term truth is used?
    – MmmHmm
    Mar 9, 2017 at 8:23
0

A similar question: How can experts disagree despite having access to the same facts? TLDR: It is easier to agree on phenomena than interpretations, and many of the tools of scientific method are just systematising how to agree about phenomena, from consilience of evidence, to double-blind truals, to tests for statistical significance.

'True' as fundamentally about signal vs noise, or expectation vs result: Why is a measured true value “TRUE”?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.