Posted: Feb 23, 2012 4:24 pm
by logical bob
Nicko wrote:
logical bob wrote: The denial of universal truth claims is not a universal truth claim any more than atheism is a religion.

This goes to the heart of what both Bill and I are taking about. Neither he nor I are making claims of any kind.

One does not have to know whether or not a claim is true in order to state that if it were true it would constitute a truth. If nothing at all was able to be known, then that itself would constitute a truth; though of course - by the conditions of this hypothesis - we could not know that it was a truth.

Bill and I are not talking about epistemology or ontology; we are talking about what the word "truth" means.

OK then, let's talk about what the word "truth" means. First up, it doesn't convey any information. Compare two statements.
A. The speed of light is the same for all observers.
B. It's true that the speed of light is the same for all observers.
I hope you'll agree that B doesn't give you any more information than A. This makes the concept of truth look a little redundant.

There are various ways to correctly use the word.
"Truth is stranger than fiction."
"You say you didn't take my ice cream but the truth is you gorged yourself on both tubs."
"If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us"
"Time to face up to some difficult truths here, folks."

How we get from here to your suggestion that truth is something "out there" that exists even if we can't access it is a mystery to me.

Bill offered the speed of light and its status as an universal speed limit as a candidate for absolute truth. That's not an absolute truth, that's a piece of scientific theory - provisionally accepted in so far as it corresponds to the data. Indeed recent results at CERN suggested we might need to rethink it - and even if that result gets chalked up to experimental error, it shows we shouldn't be complacent about identifying our current knowledge with absolute truth. Science doesn't deal in absolute truths and never has.

Facts are also poor candidates for absolute truths because of statements A and B above. Facts are facts. To call them true in addition adds nothing to the information we have available.

It's odd to say that what truth is has nothing to do with epistemology and ontology. If there's such a thing as absolute truth, but it's not to do with what we can know or what exists, perhaps you can tell us what you think the word means?