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Re: Absolute Truth -vs- relative truth

From: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2001 13:08:53 -0500
Message-Id: <v04210173b746bfe8d1d2@[205.160.76.219]>
To: "Seth Russell" <seth@robustai.net>
Cc: <www-rdf-logic@w3.org>
>From: "pat hayes" <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
>
> > >From: "pat hayes" <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
> > >
> > > > After all, there IS a
> > > > truth of the matter, right?
> > >
> > >I imagine so .. but nobody can knows it, nor will they ever.  I would
>hate
> > >to burn such an unknowable metaphysics into the axioms of our thinking.
> > >Especially because we don't have any particular reason to.  You calculate
> > >your truth, I'll calculate mine ...  thank you just the same.
> >
> > I didnt say there is an absolute metaphysical truth of the matter,
> > and Im not talking about burning any assumptions into our thinking. I
> > meant it in a much more mundane sense, as when we speak in normal
> > life about 'fact of the matter', eg either the motor bearings are
> > shot or they aren't.
>
>[1] Any agent can interpret a sentence.
>[2] Such an agent can also model reality.
>[3] The match between the interpretation of the sentence by the agent and
>that agent's model of reality is this thing we have been calling "truth".

Not me. I was referring to the match between the sentence and the 
reality, as when someone says "your fly is undone" and I look *at my 
pants* (to see if what he said is *true*). I don't go into a trance 
and look at a mental model of my pants.

>[4] My only point is that there is no preferred agent.

True. (I also don't pray to God to tell me if my fly is undone.)

>How can you possibly factor the agent out of that description without making
>erronious assumptions ?

Of course I might make errors. We might all make errors; Im not 
saying anything about arriving at ultimate certainty.

>How can you possibly get any information from any earstwhile preferred
>agent?

Look, Im not talking about agents. Saying a sentence is 'true' doesnt 
mean the source is reliable; it means the sentence accurately 
describes the world. Now, of course, you might want to reason about 
the veracity or otherwise of the source, and you might conclude that 
the sentence wasn't true, or that, salve verite, whenever source A 
contradicts source B on matters pertaining to topic D, you will take 
A's word for it, or whatever. But the upshot of all this reasoning 
is, in the end, that you will have chosen some sentences to accept, 
ie to take *as being true*. Without that final understanding of a 
sentence as saying something *about the world*, it remains just a 
sentence, a piece of mere syntax.

> >If we all take a relativistic view of truth in
> > this sense we will rapidly get to the point where we are trying to
> > walk through walls.
>
>Not at all.  Rather I think that if people understand that there is no
>absolute interpretation of things, then they will be more tolerant of
>others.

Truth doesnt mean absolute interpretation, it means correspondence to reality.

>Don't forget .... survival still rules !

Right. So be careful not to walk into any walls.

Pat

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Received on Friday, 8 June 2001 14:08:50 GMT

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