There’s magnet. If the magnet didn’t attract the other magnet and then disappeared, in this case can “the magnet attracts the other magnet” never be true?

  • What does it mean? If there are no magnets, every statement about magnet has no meaning. If this magnet existed now, every statement about the properties of this magnet in the "now" point in time is meaningful and thus can be either true or false. Nov 12, 2021 at 13:32
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    – J D
    Nov 12, 2021 at 15:01
  • You need to clarify this question, indeed. But since you're starting out, you might want to consider what it means to be true. There are different theories of truth.
    – J D
    Nov 12, 2021 at 15:02
  • 1
    This question will have at least two different answers depending on whether you are a philosopher or a physicist. Which answer do you want? Nov 12, 2021 at 15:37
  • 1
    If magnets are near in space without interference, they move towards the other in less than a second. If they are separated by some meters, the time until union is in the order of minutes. The more the distance, the larger the time. So, if they a re separated by millions of light years, they still experience attraction and they will get together in some very distant future. Empirically, there's always attraction. Now, can you please reformulate your question?
    – RodolfoAP
    Nov 12, 2021 at 17:59

2 Answers 2


Our senses provide us knowledge, even in the absence of things. In your example, the "truth" or your understanding must change upon observing no attraction (assuming the prior truth was something like "all magnets attract no matter what"). This is because our senses are information channels. An information channel is at all times updating our knowledge, even in the absence of things/them firing. The example Tim Maudlin and James Ladyman like to talk about is a dog who barks if there is an animal outside. You do not need to hear anything to know there really is no animal outside.

"The magnet attracts the other magnet" + our model/understanding of how the world works, can't both be true upon your observing no attraction. There is a plain as day contradiction. (And absence is providing the awareness of the contradiction due how our senses work.) But note the mutual contradiction of the two is in very plain language. We already have much more detailed accounts of magnets and models of the world due to science. So in modern understanding, you should provide many more details (how close the magnets were, how long they were close to each other, repeated trials, etc). Without the finer detail, all you have learned is "this magnet did not attract the other magnet". Not as fruitful an observation as it could be. You never said what your magnet was made of or if it had been demagnitized prior, etc.


On a realist account, Truth and Falsehood exist even if nothing ever happens. It is by virtue of how the universe works (how it "is"). In other words, truth exists even if unactualized – this typically implies a variant of Platonism, or slightly milder positions.

Consider an example:

There is the first-ever instance of physical law X.

Now, the question is: Did the law exist prior to first being actualized?

On a realist account, it always pre-existed (i.e. in the possibility space) as a blueprint that instantiates in a ​specific condition.

A different answer is the antirealist/nominalist approach that the law X "emerged" procedurally from previous laws and/or state of affairs. On such an account, universals don't actually exist independently of the clause they appear in.

To answer your question. For a realist, if the magnet did not attract a magnet, it means that 'the magnet attracts the other magnet' is false. For an antirealist, the situation generally can be different because truth or falsity don't exist autonomously outside the particular.

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