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Re: [ontolog-forum] {Disarmed} Reality and Truth

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Kathryn Blackmond Laskey <klaskey@xxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 29 Apr 2007 16:59:20 -0400
Message-id: <p06110427c25ab1384706@[]>
>  >> [SN] Reality doesn't exist in the absence of perspective.  Reality is
>  >> subjective, not objective.
>>  [PH] Absolute nonsense. Reality existed for billions
>>  of years before there was anything that could
>  > form a subjective view of it...
>  >
>>>[SN]  When people speak, they speak the truth if
>>>  they say what is real for them.
>>  [PH] No. They speak the truth when what they say is in
>>  fact the case, in the actual world.
>>>  [SN] The *real* worlds are the worlds that
>>>  are real *for persons*.
>>  [PH] No, the real world is the one that persons
>  > inhabit and are part of. There is only one of it.
>[WK] haven't you just said that logical semantics is a theory of truth?  what
>about the semantics of modal logics?  isn't it a theory of truth which
>consists of multiple, concurrent so-called 'possible worlds'?    (01)

We have here an articulation of competing ontologies.    (02)

Pat is an unapologetic realist.  He believes there is one real world 
that actually exists.  People have subjective opinions about that one 
real world.  Some of these opinions are wrong. For example, common 
wisdom used to be that the Earth is flat.  Some people still believe 
the world is flat.  The beliefs of those people are / were wrong.    (03)

Steve is articulating a constructivist ontology (according to my 
reading).  In the constructivist ontology, there is no one actual, 
true, real world.  Rather, people construct reality through our 
social interactions.  There may be different constructed realities. 
On some aspects of reality, we agree pretty well, and on others there 
is a great deal of disagreement.    (04)

Waclaw seems to be articulating a many-worlds ontology.  In a 
many-worlds ontology, there are multiple concurrent "possible 
worlds." For each of us, it seems as if there is one "actual world," 
but it is because we cannot see the other "possible worlds".  There 
are quantum physicists who subscribe to such an ontology.  They don't 
think quantum events "actually happen." Rather, we experience the 
events that "seem to" happen in our local world, but all the possible 
events "actually happen" in some world.    (05)

A realist would say Pat's ontology is correct and the others are 
mistaken.  A constructivist would say Pat is right for Pat, but Steve 
is right for Steve.    (06)

I can't prove which of these ontologies is correct.  I don't think 
it's possible to prove which of these ontologies is correct.  The 
different ontologies are not falsifiable in the Popperian sense.    (07)

However, there is a strong argument for acting as if the realist 
ontology is correct.  For example, it behooves me to believe that if 
I jump out of a 22-story building, I'm going to go splat and that 
will be the end of me.  I think it's dangerous to believe that my 
going splat is some kind of social construction.  Similarly for many 
other actionable consequences of the realist view.    (08)

Even the staunchest advocates of non-realist ontologies find 
themselves falling into realist thinking when the rubber meets the 
road.  I think Nature evolved us that way, because those who acted on 
the belief that it was a matter of subjective opinion whether hungry 
predators would eat a straggler found themselves eaten more often, 
thereby failing to pass on their genes to the next generation.    (09)

Kathy    (010)

p.s. The realist ontology applies only to propositions that pass the 
"clarity test" -- i.e., propositions that can be stated sufficiently 
clearly that it is possible in principle to verify whether they are 
or are not true in Reality (of course, for future events, such 
verification must be postponed until the date of occurrence or 
non-occurrence).  There are meaningful natural language statements 
(e.g., that Rostropovich was a great musician, that Kathy's email was 
boring, that Pat is a friendly fellow) that do not have "correct" 
answers in the "true reality" -- unless or until we have defined our 
terms sufficiently precisely that a definitive answer results.    (011)

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