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

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ingvar Johansson <ingvar.johansson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 29 May 2007 10:39:59 +0200
Message-id: <465BE6DF.7090507@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Waclaw Kusnierczyk schrieb:
> Ingvar Johansson wrote:
>> I think what (reading vQ:s mail) might be 
>> pedagogically missing in Peirce and Sowa is a concept advertised by 
>> another fallibilist, Karl Popper. He verbalizes it using three different 
>> expressions: ‘truthlikeness’, ‘verisimilitude’, and ‘approximation to 
>> truth’. Theories are not just either true or false; truth can take 
>> degrees. And very very much tells in favor of the view that most 
>> empirically adequate theories have a rather high degree of truthlikeness.
>  > As long as you stick to the polar notion of truth-falsity, then you
>  > have to say that all propositions that are not 'simply true' are
>  > 'simply false'. And then you end up in the curious position that all
>  > scientific theories - today, in the past, and for an immensely long
>  > future to come - are simply false.
> Ingvar,
> I have, for curiosity rather than for stubbornness, read an article on 
> truthlikeness from SEP:
> http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truthlikeness/
> It appears to me that, according to that article, Popper's truthlikeness 
> is, as you say, an approximation to truth.  However, there is no word 
> about degrees of truth, and indeed, every theory is either true or 
> false.  (Simply true or simply false, if you prefer.)
>       (01)

In its very first paragraph, this article uses the expression 'degree of 
truthlikeness', and I thought that I had managed to make it clear in our 
discussion that my use of 'degrees of truth' means the same. With 
respect to the term 'truth', excuse me, you look to me like a 
hard-headed language purist.    (02)

> Furthermore, it also seems that the Popper's definition of truthlikeness 
> is far from problematic, and the subsequent extensions are also not void 
> of problems.    (03)

I agree with all this criticism. And I know for sure that in one of my 
mails I mentioned, that I do not believe that it is possible to 
construct a *formal measure of truthlikeness*, but that the notion is 
nonethless useful - and necessary - as a regulative idea for research.    (04)

>   Depending on the definition, a false theory may be more 
> truthlike than a true theory, and a true theory may be of truthlikeness 
> lower than the maximal.  And also, it seems to me that, with the 
> syntactic definition of truth attributed to Popper in the referred 
> article -- truth as as the set of all true sentences -- and the 
> definition of truthlikeness as linearly corresponding to the proportion 
> of truth captured by a theory, most scientific theories are in fact of 
> rather low truthlikeness.
> Should 'theories are not just either true or false; truth can take 
> degrees' be attributed to Popper, or is your own view?
> I am of course aware that the author of the SEP entry may have 
> misinterpreted original works of Popper, simplified his words, as well 
> as that an entry of this length can never accommodate for a full 
> overview of a philosopher's opinion.    (05)

In my opinion, the article (Graham Oddie, May 9, 2007) misses only 
Popper's view that 'truth' and 'truthlikeness' are *regulative ideas* as 
well. However, Oddie can defend himself by pointing out that in the 
second paragraph he says that he "will examine the basic assumptions 
which generate the *logical problem* of truthlikeness." In the reference 
list he should have included chapter 7 of  H. Keuth, "The Philosophy of 
Karl Popper" (2004). Under the name of 'partial truth', the idea of 
truthlikeness has also been advocated by Mario Bunge; this fact is not 
mentioned either.    (06)

Ingvar    (07)

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