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

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: KCliffer@xxxxxxx
Date: Sun, 20 May 2007 13:03:54 EDT
Message-id: <c6a.103406f8.3381d97a@xxxxxxx>
My responses to Ingvar (essentially agreement, with a bit of explanation) are embedded below.
ingvar.johansson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx writes:
I am happy to join what I take to be your agreement on the concept of
truth. Let me just test my understanding.

In one of her mails, Paola wrote: "Truth (like falseness) is a quality
of a statement or assertion about reality."
[Not that it matters, but I think I (Ken) wrote (get the blame for) that statement.]
In philosophical ontology, it
is sometimes necessary to distinguish between *monadic qualities* and
*relational qualities*. The quality of "being a sphere" is monadic; 
when there is an instance of sphericity it simply inheres in a thing.
The quality of "being more spherelike than the Earth", on the other
hand, is a relational quality. If we claim "Venus is more spherelike
than the Earth", then we claim not only that Venus has a certain shape,
we also claim that this shape stands in a certain *relationship* to
another shape. Now, what has this distinction with the truth concept to do?

In my understanding of Ken's nice exposition, truth as a "quality of a
statement" cannot possibly be a monadic quality, it has to be a
*relational quality*; it must bring in a relation of correspondence
between the statement and something that ought to be called a
*truthmaker*. To claim that a statement is completely true is to claim
that it has a relation of complete correspondence to a truthmaker; to
claim that it is truthlike is to claim that it has a relation of partial
correspondence to a truthmaker.

Do you (at least Ken and Paola) agree?
I think I agree, with a few qualifications or caveats with respect to my view of it.
1) One can, I think, consider the truth not only of a statement, but of a (the) mental model associated with the statement, as a statement is typically an _expression_ of a mental model of reality. The two (the statement and the associated mental model it expresses) can be considered themselves to be corresponding.
2) The "truthmaker" as I interpret Ingvar's invocation of it would be the aspect of reality that the statement is about and that the mental model associated with the statement represents.
3) The relation is the degree of correspondence between the model or statement expressing it and the reality; no correspondence means falseness, complete correspondence means truth, and partial correspondence means partial truth.
4) I agree with Ingvar's last statement about complete and partial truth, with the caveat that it may be difficult or impossible to assess the level of truth in a meaningful absolute way. However, science does it in a relative way of checking correspondence of the statement or model with observations associated with the reality, considered using logical reasoning. To the degree to which the statement or model accurately expresses or predicts the observations or results of experiments considered to "test" its validity (truth), it is considered to be true. But science always leaves room for a better-performing model that can be demonstrated to be "more true" by a better correspondence with observations, including observations that may not have been considered initially in association with the statement or model.
5) However, as I indicated previously, some statements are so clearly agreed to represent reality accurately when understood as intended, that we can have a high degree of confidence in their "truth".
PS. Many contemporary philosophers do (I am sad to report) have the view
that truth is a monadic quality of statements (propositions).
I don't specifically know what you're referring to, but it's hard to imagine how a statement could have a truth value without considering that it itself is an _expression_ of a mental construct (thought) for which the truth depends on its status with respect to the thing it's referring to. Even if it's an assumption for heuristic purposes, it's still relational - it's declared to correspond to a manufactured reality (mental model) being considered. The referent, as far as I can see, must be something separate from the statement or model it expresses, which could include (as some have pointed out) people's mental models or other statements about reality.
Kenneth Cliffer, Ph.D.

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