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LifeOfAPancake t1_jbgp373 wrote

I mentioned Ivan Karamazov’s “Even If” because it is a good reason to assimilate truth with what can be known of it.

What value is there in a truth that can never be known? Is there a good reason to maintain a notion of truth that is inaccessible? It becomes totally useless to us at that point


rejectednocomments t1_jbgs6l2 wrote

Well, I want some term which is correctly applied to a statement in case things are as that statement says they are.

If you want to use “truth” in some other way, I guess I can’t stop you. But I still want a term with such a meaning.


OuchYouHitMe t1_jbij2td wrote

If there is no way to differentiate the two, then no meaningful distinction can be expressed. Your comment provides no response to this and continues off the challenged premises.

You wanting a term is not an argument in this context. There is a difference between simple practical speech and philosophical terminology dealing with concepts such as truth. So much recognizes Blackburn himself.


frnzprf t1_jbiqil3 wrote

Schrödinger's cat experiment is often misunderstood to mean that just because we don't know whether the cat is dead or alive, it is actually half-dead and half-alive.

This has nothing to do with quants though. The same could be said about the shell game: I don't know whether there is a pearl under this shell or not, so it's half-there.

The point of Schrödinger's cat is to connect the actual half-facts (according to popular interpretation) of the quantum world to the macro world.

So, what is my opinion on the shell game? I'd say there is an actual reality independent of my knowledge. I can look under the shell afterwards and learn whether there was a pearl even before I looked. I mean - that's certainly the most popular, "naive" interpretation of reality, isn't it?

Would you say that "the universe" has no opinion about whether there is a pearl under a shell, or about how many fingers I'm holding behind by back, as long as you don't know anything about it?

I admit, it wouldn't cause any problems. It's unfalsifiable whether things really happen that nobody will know about or whether only things happen that people directly or indirectly observe.

Another game: In Germany it's called "Topfschlagen" - "pot hitting". One person gets blindfolded and the other people have to guide them to a pot by shouting "hot" and "cold". The blindfolded person doesn't know where the goal is (if we assume that the others don't help them). I think that means that at least things can exist when one person doesn't know about them - because other people still do. It could theoretically be the case that the pot stops existing once everybody puts on blindfolds.


rejectednocomments t1_jbj0l51 wrote

The objection was why care about truth if we can’t get to it?

Now, I never said all truths are inaccessible, only that perhaps some are.

So the objection is: why care about truth if some truths may be inaccessible?

My response is: this doesn’t change whether or not the way some things are might be inaccessible to us, and so we want a term for the way things are which applies in the those cases too. I think the term for that is “truth”, but I’ll go with another if you really insist on using it differently.


Hedgehogz_Mom t1_jbj83cg wrote

To my mind, the meaningful distinction is that I am capable of knowing that what I know to be true is not the extent of what may be possible to be true. It removes a limitation of absoluteness. It allows for the limitations of my own conceptual and intellectual abilities. It acknowledges and allows for the real limitation of confirmation bias to which all humans are subject, without closing the door behind what may be possible.


rolyfuckingdiscopoly t1_jbijiar wrote

A truth that can never be known, though, is an assumption. The inability of you or me to know something to be true does not mean that another human, or another creature of a different kind, cannot know it. I think dismissing the value of truth “because we cannot know it”, and presuming it inaccessible, is kind of a reach.


LifeOfAPancake t1_jbikmot wrote

There are some truths that are inaccessible. I referenced Kant and Gödel’s incompleteness theorem for that reason. How did the universe start? Do I have free will? Is there a God? What is Beauty? What is my purpose? These are not Truths that some other human (nor any other creature, unless they are God) will be able to stumble across, they are fundamentally unknowable.


OuchYouHitMe t1_jbimgmf wrote

Perhaps try thinking about it more in terms of inaccessibility rather than unknowability, because the latter might be creating some recursive confusion here.

> A truth that can never be known, though, is an assumption.

The real assumption, then, is correspondence. For example, it's not assumptive for me to discard a theory of fnördianism (where fnörd is a property of claims). That is because fnörd would something incomprehensible and I have no reason to believe that some creature out there comprehends fnörd. Why would I?

This example aligns more with arguments on correspondence being incoherent. If we wanted this example to get closer to deflationism, we'd associate fnörd one-to-one with some other property. Argument remains.

> I think dismissing the value of truth “because we cannot know it”

Then what is the value of a metaphysical correspondent truth, if we cannot speak of it meaningfully?


frnzprf t1_jbisg7l wrote

Let's say I have a box with a window and I see a red ball in it.

I also have a second box without a window. Would you say it's even wrong to say: "There could be a ball in this box or maybe there is no ball in this box."?

I'm kind of proposing a fact that I can't check.

If there was a ball in the box, it would be a fact that there is a ball in the box. Then there would be a fact about something that I don't know anything about. The same holds if there is no ball in the box.

If we assume there is no truth without knowledge, then the box can neither have a ball or not have a ball inside it.

If I understand correctly, you and /u/LifeOfAPancake would say that this neither-true-or-false state only occurs when no conscious being knows about it. So if I put a ball in the box without you watching, it would still be true that it's in there. But if I throw a dice in a cup and then I shake the cup again, then the dice has no true number on the upper side, because noone can check it afterwards.

This also leaves the question open whether it can be true that someone or something is conscious. If an AI is conscious and nobody besides itself knows about it, it is obviously true that it is conscious - in your and my opinion.

But as an outsider, I couldn't even entertain the possibility that it's conscious, because in case it's unconscious, nobody knows that it's unconscious and you say that it's not allowed to entertain the thought that propositions are true or false, when nobody knows about them. (I could have misunderstood you.)

In my intuition things can happen without anyone watching, even indirectly. Isn't that more "parsimonous"? It's more mentally efficient to assume the world exists without anyone watching. I have no better argument than that.

Well, maybe you could also say that a truth without knowledge is thinkable and as words are all about thinking, the word "truth" should be independent of the concept of "knowledge".


LifeOfAPancake t1_jbkuf0o wrote

I’m not proposing an idealist theory of Truth. Your case of the red ball has an important nuance. It is not about the present indeterminacy of the red ball being there or not. This is something that CAN be checked, it is a falsifiable theory. If you were to add as a premise that the box is indestructible and that it is impossible to verify whether there is a red ball or not, then we have an issue where we have to banish the possibility of objective Truth.

There might in fact be an objective Truth, the ball is there or it isn’t, but what good is it to us if its impossible to have the truth one way or another? If I correctly guess that the red ball is in there (assuming the objective Truth is the red ball is there), I will never be able to benefit from the objectivity of this truth, because for me it will always be doubtful, so it is inevitably reduced to the level of belief. So what good does it do me what the objective truth is? Even if I am holding the truth in my hand, I don’t benefit from it.

This indestructible box example is a better metaphor for your question of the consciousness of another being (AI, or even another human), because as far as an outsider is concerned, we can only make educated guesses based on intuition about the existence of a consciousness in another mind. Strictly speaking, you have never directly seen concrete evidence of another person’s mind, and so based on a theory of 100% certainty, you might as well be solipsistic. But we operate without having to know absolute truth. I operate on the basis of a very strong intuition that other minds are conscious, without a certainty about it. I have banished the need to know the objective truth here and allowed myself to be satisfied with an uncertain, but accessible and functional, subjective truth.


frnzprf t1_jbm11n8 wrote

> So what good does it do me what the objective truth is?

I don't disagree that true propositions that aren't known to me, aren't useful to me.

I just don't draw the conclusion that "true" and "possible to know" is the same concept. Maybe that depends on what possible means. Like "theoretically possible" vs "practically possible".

> There might in fact be an objective Truth [...] assuming the objective Truth is the red ball is there [...]

This looks to me like you agree that unknowable truths can exist.

You say there are propositions that can be true without anyone knowing them as it happens to be, such as a particular person is a philosophical zombie - a biological robot, or there being water on a planet beyond the observable universe.

You say that there are no true propositions without anyone knowing them because they are impossible to know, by principle, such as undetectable ghosts existing or them not existing.

Is that correct? That would be less controversial than if propositions of the first category couldn't be true either. I'm not sure, maybe the philosophical zombie belongs in the second category. Consciousness is weird anyway.

Can you think of good examples that people really care about in the second category - principally unknowable, and therefore impossible to be true or false claims?

Supernatural claims often just propose alternative physics. People say that ghosts act against the laws of physics, but they could theoretically exists and if they turned out to exists, the written laws of physics would need to be adjusted to accomodate them.

The existance of the judeochristian god is a weird claim. It depends how he is actually defined. Maybe god according to an unfalsifiable definition would occupy this space of neither true or false.

Is god's existance an example of unknowable claim? Does it make the claim neither true nor false or just false?

You can ignore the rest if you don't have much time.

"Possible" is an interesting word. I have a theory that possibility as opposed to certainty always has something to do with incomplete knowledge. In a universe without conscious humans with blind spots, there is no "possibility". It's not an inherent property of a shuffled deck of cards to be random. It can just be random to an observer. That's my weird theory.

If I'm correct then there is no difference between a fact that is impossible to know and a fact that I just happen not to know. Everything that is not actually the case, is impossible and everything that is the case, is impossible to be different. Possibility only arises when you don't know some facts or ignore them.

Well, maybe there are levels of impossibility. I can get to late to work, because I didn't set an alarm. Given that fact, it is impossible to arrive on time - but this excuse won't impress my boss. If I had to break the laws of physics or even logic, that's an arguably deeper level of impossibility.


rolyfuckingdiscopoly t1_jbsbd9o wrote

An interesting question is: why does the truth have to be immediately useful? Why would it be that truth must benefit you, or me, or any of us?

And- if it must be useful— is it not useful to have an idea, an inexact but working model, of the way the world exists independent of ourselves?


LifeOfAPancake t1_jbu3n2m wrote

It doesn’t have to be ‘immediately’ useful, it doesn’t have to be useful at all. But, if we are to care about truth, we care about truth FOR some reason. The question “why do I care about Truth” presupposes that it might be possible to answer “I don’t.” So it is not intrinsically necessary that we care about Truth, so it is up to us to justify our desire for it.

I think truth is useful to many people. You want your romantic partner to truly love you, you care about the truth of their feelings. Many examples where we care about truth. So then how do we get truth? You’re right, an inexact but working model of it is the best we can do. Thats what I was also getting at with my idea that we don’t care so much about absolute Truth, but only subjective truth.


frnzprf t1_jbj8zg9 wrote

This reminds me of Russel's teapot. I'm not completely sure what the point of it is. Maybe: If you believe in god without any evidence (some believers do, some don't), then you might as well believe in a teapot in space.

A teapot in space isn't usefully true without evidence. You might as well say it's existance isn't true at all. This also sounds like "pragmatism" from the video.

I think it doesn't hurt to say that there could be a teapot in space. It would be wrong to say for certain that there is no approximately teapod shaped asteroid in the asteroid belt.

A god that doesn't interact with the world is certainly irrelevant. A god that only punishes or rewards people in the afterlife is still unknowable but also very relevant. I still agree insofar that you shouldn't worry about that possibility, given you have no evidence now.

So there are three levels: true or false, eventually knowable, relevant.