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What Should We Call What Most People Call Truth?

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Posted by John Morgan Powell on February 27, 2001 20:27:58 UTC

I see truth as an ideal that science seeks to approach. If truth is what any person thinks it is and if what they say they believe matches what they think then their truth should be able to be tested and rejected by the authorities in society. One assumption of science is that truth is not subjective in this way. Science demands something more objective. Scientists are necessarily subjective, but they seek to be as objective as possible.

If I make a statement and someone says "Is that true?" My response is usually either "I think so." or "That's what the evidence seems to indicate."

Consider car buying (something I've been doing the last while). You ask the seller "Is it in good condition?" Practically every seller, regardless of the condition of the vehicle, will reply in the affirmative. To help avoid this the Kelley Blue Book gives more specifics to distinguish "fair", "good", and "excellent". These are still subjective, but have a higher level of objectivity. Car buyers demand a higher level of objectivity than what your definition seems to allow for.

Your definition seems difficult to apply in many parts of society. Your definition would suggest that the legal system is unnecessary. All you have to do is ask the suspect if they committed the crime or if they think they should be punished. If they don't think they did it or that they should be punished, then the issue is resolved. Perhaps your definition would make laws unworkable. You aren't recommending this kind of anarchy are you?

How are we to know what people think is true if we can't rely on what they say they think?

Perhaps I am misunderstanding you.

If truth has the definition you give for it then what do we call the ideal I'm referring to? What should we call the objective ideal that is not subject to the individual observer?

The unique addition about "you'll probably be wrong" is particularly interesting to me. Did this come from your unique life's experiences?
It promotes a more humble attitude about opinions, scientific or otherwise.

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