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

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Jack Park <jack.park@xxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 29 Apr 2007 18:01:03 -0700
Message-id: <46353FCF.3090905@xxxxxxx>
Kathryn, comments below.
Jack    (01)

Kathryn Blackmond Laskey wrote:
>>  >> [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'?
> We have here an articulation of competing ontologies.
> 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.
> 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.
> 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.
> 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.
> 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.
> 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.    (02)

If I may ask: how did you come to that belief? Did you not pass through 
some form of constructivism on the way? It's clearly an act of social 
constructivism to actually jump out of the building and observe your 
going splat, and it's equally an act of social constructivism to conduct 
experiments with weights (eggs come to mind) as many school kids already 
do. From there, a realist world view (ontology?) evolves. Or not.    (03)

It seems to me that the *only* thing that Steve has been arguing for is 
the federation of each of the world views you appear to correctly (my 
view) articulate here. When arguments for federation are raised in a 
tribe where the mainstream funding and wisdom is dominated by, as you 
say, "unapologetic realists", if, indeed, that's what they actually are, 
then the arguments seem much closer to tribal or religious in nature. 
Steve has been, my view again, correct in suggesting that this is not 
the venue for such discussions. On that, I would agree.    (04)

At the same time, however, I would argue that this thread (it's original 
subject left intact) has been of value to more than one 
reader/participant. That can't be all that bad, no matter how irritated 
Pat has become.    (05)

I will stipulate that everything I just said is subjective in nature. 
Your mileage will vary.    (06)

> 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.
> Kathy
> 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.
>      (07)

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