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What is "Truth" and "Fact"...and aren't they subje

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I think the distinction is that many modern theories don't treat epistemology that way. I don't know a ton about virtue epistemology, so I just wanted to post it as a way to consider related ideas and a way to think about the thread. I'd be glad to compare/contrast in a different thread.

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I see an apple. It is a fruit. This is a fact, and no other fact will change its being a fact. Apples won't be not-fruits in another context, because it's just a matter of reality. However, our concept of fruit may change, or we might lack any concept of fruit.

I probably was missing the point, I don't know what a universal-absolute is, or if you mean a universal which is absolute. I don't know if you're saying there are truths without context, so I only wanted to say that the context is -all- of reality, and for facts, our own personal context is irrelevant. Another way to state my thought is that there is personal context, and there is context of reality itself that keeps going no matter what. "This apple is a fruit" may be a fact, and would then be true regardless of someone knowing it. Personal context here would only mean context of one's knowledge, how it was acquired, all that.

The question, once I looked a little closer, seems to be about how we know our knowledge in a personal context is a fact. Looks like we got the idea of truth being something true regardless of anyone knowing it, but we're still going to need to get at validating knowledge. My knowledge points to paleo being a wrong theory, while Reasoner's knowledge points to paleo being a right theory. Nietzsche's perspectivism is like that - truth is only determined by our perspectives. To avoid that, how does one know when knowledge is a fact?

More on that later.

YES, you nailed what I was trying to ask...thank you...

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I decided instead of writing a new post, this article would be better. Note that it's not an Objectivist theory, but the general idea of how to know what is true is by aiming at it to the best of one's ability. That much is at least Objectivist-y, and very Aristotelian! So your little bit about paleo, Reasoner, is like that - we're not talking about "knowing" as a mental schematic, we're talking about how one creates that representation, with skill, like in like Reidy's post.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/25/getting-it-right/?_r=0

So would the owner of the Bentley then be justified in claiming knowledge if he was to go out to the car, verify the registration in the glovebox, and (in an alternate scenario) physically validate that the car was owned by him?

What if someone SWITCHED the registration in order to falsify his ownership, against his knowledge?

So therefore...I am having trouble understanding how referring to "knowledge" as a form of action is not allowing it's definition to be mutated by skeptics, who deny the possibility of true knowledge.

The skeptics argument would easily be that there could ALWAYS be a deceiver that manipulates perception to distort conceptual accuracy.  This slippery slope then of course leads to the false beliefs that mans mind is NOT able (in principle) to fully understand the facts of reality - counter to the tenants of Objectivism.

I admit I am experiencing some moral discomfort in defining "knowledge" as an action - it almost seems like an underhanded excuse to settle rather than think.

What I think would help me here is if someone could provide a real-world example of AAA knowledge.*

Note:  I am aware that there are some fantastic threads on this forum regarding certainty, and this one is quickly heading in that direction, so I'll attempt to ensure this one doesn't duplicate that discussion.

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I decided instead of writing a new post, this article would be better. Note that it's not an Objectivist theory, but the general idea of how to know what is true is by aiming at it to the best of one's ability. That much is at least Objectivist-y, and very Aristotelian! So your little bit about paleo, Reasoner, is like that - we're not talking about "knowing" as a mental schematic, we're talking about how one creates that representation, with skill, like in like Reidy's post.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/25/getting-it-right/?_r=0

So would the owner of the Bentley then be justified in claiming knowledge if he was to go out to the car, verify the registration in the glovebox, and (in an alternate scenario) physically validate that the car was owned by him?

What if someone SWITCHED the registration in order to falsify his ownership, against his knowledge?

So therefore...I am having trouble understanding how referring to "knowledge" as a form of action is not allowing it's definition to be mutated by skeptics, who deny the possibility of true knowledge.

The skeptics argument would easily be that there could ALWAYS be a deceiver that manipulates perception to distort conceptual accuracy.  This slippery slope then of course leads to the false beliefs that mans mind is NOT able (in principle) to fully understand the facts of reality - counter to the tenants of Objectivism.

I admit I am experiencing some moral discomfort in defining "knowledge" as an action - it almost seems like an underhanded excuse to settle rather than think.

What I think would help me here is if someone could provide a real-world example of AAA knowledge.*

Note:  I am aware that there are some fantastic threads on this forum regarding certainty, and this one is quickly heading in that direction, so I'll attempt to ensure this one doesn't duplicate that discussion.

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Those are the right kind of questions. That's what "Gettier cases" want people to ask, to question if knowledge is -only- a justified true belief. A justified true belief doesn't seem to be able to answer what to do for what-ifs, like "what if a thief came by and stole my car?" So you're left to be a skeptic and constantly checking. Justifications are about your propositions, which doesn't say a lot of how to get evidence.

The answer, I think, is to make evidence gathering part of what constitutes knowledge. Making action part of epistemology, as in gathering evidence for yourself, making what we do and interacting with the world part of thinking. On top of that, we'd be able to make standards about what actions make for knowledge. Rather than being skeptical of our own minds and always working to check if we've been fooled by our own minds, I'm saying we ought to embrace our "limitations". The evidence one gathers is necessarily for knowledge, so something like virtue epistemology gets us to see that knowledge should be based on the mind's identity. In other words, knowledge isn't simply a proposition in your head. It's more.

AAA knowledge would probably be like a scientist developing a theory. Why not say "evolution is only a theory"? Because it aims at the truth, provides methods to get there, uses observation, and really helps with progress in science. The problem is how you personally know. Well, we'd have to ask what sort of evidence is needed. Briefly, personal perspective is one part, but in the sense it's one's "web" of one's total knowledge. How to know when you were wrong is another part.

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As an aside, I have found that studying the evidence for the theory of evolution is a good way to get a sense for how an inductive proof of a scientific theory works. It doesn't require much mathematics to understand and the reasoning is very clear and powerful.

For example, take the biogeographical evidence. Animals on islands near a continent tend to resemble animals on the mainland, but they are adapted to the specific niches available on the island. In addition, the animals found on these islands tend to be small creatures that could easily be blown by the wind or carried to the island on driftwood, like birds, insects, and small lizards. Each of these generalizations is supported by countless observations, and the only possible conclusion to draw from them is that the animals on the islands arrived there by chance and evolved to fill the niches available.

I recommend Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True if you want to study this more. It's aimed at creationists, but there is a lot to learn in there about philosophy of science if you know how to analyze the examples he gives.

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Those are the right kind of questions. That's what "Gettier cases" want people to ask, to question if knowledge is -only- a justified true belief. A justified true belief doesn't seem to be able to answer what to do for what-ifs, like "what if a thief came by and stole my car?" So you're left to be a skeptic and constantly checking. Justifications are about your propositions, which doesn't say a lot of how to get evidence.

The answer, I think, is to make evidence gathering part of what constitutes knowledge. Making action part of epistemology, as in gathering evidence for yourself, making what we do and interacting with the world part of thinking. On top of that, we'd be able to make standards about what actions make for knowledge. Rather than being skeptical of our own minds and always working to check if we've been fooled by our own minds, I'm saying we ought to embrace our "limitations". The evidence one gathers is necessarily for knowledge, so something like virtue epistemology gets us to see that knowledge should be based on the mind's identity. In other words, knowledge isn't simply a proposition in your head. It's more.

AAA knowledge would probably be like a scientist developing a theory. Why not say "evolution is only a theory"? Because it aims at the truth, provides methods to get there, uses observation, and really helps with progress in science. The problem is how you personally know. Well, we'd have to ask what sort of evidence is needed. Briefly, personal perspective is one part, but in the sense it's one's "web" of one's total knowledge. How to know when you were wrong is another part.

Upon a deeper study of "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" it occurs to me that my request for an example AAA knowledge may be exemplified in the three fundamental Axiomatic concepts that Rand identifies there. (Existence Exists, Consciousness perceives Reality, A is A).  I also *think* I get what the author means when they say the person in the Bentley example falls short of a AAA account of truth because... "You are right that someone in the cafe owns a Bentley, but the correctness of your belief does not manifest your cognitive or epistemic competence."

The infinite doubting of whether our beliefs represent our cognitive competence is truly IRRATIONAL if we have made every effort to validate our beliefs against our cognition, and our past experiences and efforts indicate that the roadmap we are following to achieve our goals has proven worthy in the past (The owner of the Bentley, perhaps, should not take his eyes off his vehicle so much, and then he might be closer to a AAA account of knowledge.

And just as Reidy alluded to a "reverence" (my interpretation) of the truth (as a AAA accounting of reality), in that it may often take substantial effort to arrive close to it, I would like to remind myself here (a public affirmation, look!) that one should not hold reality to such a standard that they begin down the skeptics path, constantly reminding themselves that they are not good enough to understand it enough to call their knowledge...knowledge.

I would argue that stating you "know" something, or that something is "true" is an aggressive stance, and one should be aware, philosophically, of what they are doing when they make such a claim.

But that is the beauty of Objectivism - it holds truth and honesty and integrity in such high regard so as to incite these considerations.

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As an aside, I have found that studying the evidence for the theory of evolution is a good way to get a sense for how an inductive proof of a scientific theory works. It doesn't require much mathematics to understand and the reasoning is very clear and powerful.

For example, take the biogeographical evidence. Animals on islands near a continent tend to resemble animals on the mainland, but they are adapted to the specific niches available on the island. In addition, the animals found on these islands tend to be small creatures that could easily be blown by the wind or carried to the island on driftwood, like birds, insects, and small lizards. Each of these generalizations is supported by countless observations, and the only possible conclusion to draw from them is that the animals on the islands arrived there by chance and evolved to fill the niches available.

I recommend Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True if you want to study this more. It's aimed at creationists, but there is a lot to learn in there about philosophy of science if you know how to analyze the examples he gives.

I have a deep interest in inductive reasoning because skeptics love to deny it's usage when they want to attack their arbitrary targets.  Inductive reasoning is a cognitive "connecting of the dots".  Skeptics will (arbitrarily, because to do so consistently would mean death!) refuse to admit the validity of inductive reasoning in order to disprove (in their minds) knowledge claims about which they have an emotional discomfort.

Without knowing better, I would say that knowledge claims based on inductive reasoning should be treated very delicately, almost to the point of calling them "theories" as a rule - but to the point of this thread, this does not mean they are "subjective", only that one may truly want to explore treating knowledge as an "action" in this regard, as Eiuol's article proposed.

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I have a deep interest in inductive reasoning because skeptics love to deny it's usage when they want to attack their arbitrary targets.  Inductive reasoning is a cognitive "connecting of the dots".  Skeptics will (arbitrarily, because to do so consistently would mean death!) refuse to admit the validity of inductive reasoning in order to disprove (in their minds) knowledge claims about which they have an emotional discomfort.

Without knowing better, I would say that knowledge claims based on inductive reasoning should be treated very delicately, almost to the point of calling them "theories" as a rule - but to the point of this thread, this does not mean they are "subjective", only that one may truly want to explore treating knowledge as an "action" in this regard, as Eiuol's article proposed.

It seems like your concern about skepticism is drawing you towards rationalism. At least, that explanation is consistent with your last couple of posts, which demonstrate that you accept the axioms as AAA knowledge but are careful about taking inductive scientific reasoning as AAA knowledge even if it is supported by thousands of observations like the theory of evolution. The acceptance of axioms but not observational evidence as certain is a hallmark of rationalism.

This is just a tentative diagnosis based on your last couple of posts, of course. You have to decide whether it is actually representative of what is going on in your mind.

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It seems like your concern about skepticism is drawing you towards rationalism. At least, that explanation is consistent with your last couple of posts, which demonstrate that you accept the axioms as AAA knowledge but are careful about taking inductive scientific reasoning as AAA knowledge even if it is supported by thousands of observations like the theory of evolution. The acceptance of axioms but not observational evidence as certain is a hallmark of rationalism.

This is just a tentative diagnosis based on your last couple of posts, of course. You have to decide whether it is actually representative of what is going on in your mind.

Please direct me to my post where I reject observational evidence and became a rationalist, perhaps I missed it :)

Your "diagnosis" is incorrect, however your insinuation that "thousands of observations" cause something to become AAA knowledge lowers the bar for AAA knowledge a bit, wouldn't you agree?

Also it should be understood that a rejection of skepticism and a reverence for the effort sometimes required to truly align ones mind with the facts of reality is a hallmarkm of Objectivism...and at no point does that intersect with any delusions of a priori knowledge obtained outside of ones sensory perception, nor have I proposed any such fallacy .  

PS evolution was mentioned as an example of inductive reasoning in scientific theories, NOT as an example of AAA knowledge...hence the poster opening with "as an aside"...

 

 

Edited by Reasoner
Typo and clarification

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PS evolution was mentioned as an example of inductive reasoning in scientific theories, NOT as an example of AAA knowledge...hence the poster opening with "as an aside"...

I was using it as an example of what the article defined as AAA knowledge. No, it's not an Objectivist theory per se, but it's compatible exactly because it doesn't involve simply a justified true belief. It is a process thing totally fine with induction. William's post was a good extension of what I was getting at.

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I was using it as an example of what the article defined as AAA knowledge. No, it's not an Objectivist theory per se, but it's compatible exactly because it doesn't involve simply a justified true belief. It is a process thing totally fine with induction. William's post was a good extension of what I was getting at.

Fair enough.  I'm a humble student but I'm well-studied enough to be dangerous (mostly to myself).  Rationally re-integrating a hierarchy of concepts from the ground up to replace automatic assumptions about concepts such as knowledge takes a massive amount of effort, especially when I'm only able to devote time to my studies once or twice a week or so if I am lucky :)

I think my error lies in trying to associate AAA knowledge with infallibility or even omniscience.  Since, rationally, I know these concepts are useless standards, I am constantly having to check myself against using them as a metric for truth or knowledge - we are inundated daily with a constant barrage of insinuations that the human mind isn't sufficient for this impossible standard and thus we have no choice but to rely on a priori knowledge, popular opinion, dreams, prayers, imagination, or even worse, nothing in order to make the decisions that guide our life.

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So can someone comment on the generalization of this discussion (particularly as it relates to the article on using the concept of AAA knowledge to solve the Gettier problem:

My words:  "AAA knowledge is knowledge in which one knows the steps taken to arrive at, and knows that those steps were deliberate and consistent with processes and heuristics shown in the past to support the alignment of knowledge and reality, and finally, continues to be accurate upon verification."

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Please direct me to my post where I reject observational evidence and became a rationalist, perhaps I missed it :)

Your "diagnosis" is incorrect, however your insinuation that "thousands of observations" cause something to become AAA knowledge lowers the bar for AAA knowledge a bit, wouldn't you agree?

Also it should be understood that a rejection of skepticism and a reverence for the effort sometimes required to truly align ones mind with the facts of reality is a hallmarkm of Objectivism...and at no point does that intersect with any delusions of a priori knowledge obtained outside of ones sensory perception, nor have I proposed any such fallacy .  

PS evolution was mentioned as an example of inductive reasoning in scientific theories, NOT as an example of AAA knowledge...hence the poster opening with "as an aside"... 

I apologize for that. In my defense, the forums I usually post on aren't Objectivist forums, so saying that someone is acting as a rationalist is not taken as the deadly insult there that it is here. I need to get used to the social norms on this forum.

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Well, remember it was called a AAA account, not AAA knowledge. It stood for accurate, adroit, and apt as three aspects of what knowledge is. "Accurate" is arguable, but the interesting point is that process is important. Knowledge requires deliberate thinking, it's not just a proposition. I find that far too few philosophers talk about knowledge as primarily about what you do, that the nature of one's mind is where the discussion should go (but the future is promising, if the article was any indication). Omniscience or infallibility doesn't enter in.

Perhaps earlier you were worried how two people can differ on knowledge. To an extent the worry is valid. But the part where it becomes objective is in terms of method. Nietzsche had perspectivism, but he had no notion of a method other than we all choose some method or other which is some expression of one's will. It's sort of true, but the answer to it is that there are superior methods than others, as Rand would say in terms of methods that lead to a good life.

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This clarifies things immensely, thank you!  I have to admit its a paradigm shift in thinking when it comes to the concept knowledge but this discussion has been very enlightening for me :)

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Reasoner, you seem motivated and somewhat new to Oism. I would challenge you to ask yourself how this AAA article corresponds to your experience and to Oist literature. I would also say that Kuhn's notion of a "paradigm shift" is pure irrationalist garbage and is the source of much nonsense in the philosophy of science. If you have read Kuhn and still think his work is good philosophy then something is amiss in your knowledge of epistemology. Most people though, have no idea what Kuhn actually said.

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I would also say that Kuhn's notion of a "paradigm shift" is pure irrationalist garbage and is the source of much nonsense in the philosophy of science.

Would you present your view on 1) the quality of the article, and 2) where Kuhn's notion of paradigm shift enters into Reasoner's questions? I know little about Kuhn as it is, other than earlier on his views on a paradigm shift being way too strong. All Reasoner asked is how to know what a fact is if people differ on their beliefs.

EDIT: Oh I see. When Reasoner said "paradigm shift", he meant it like "a big change", not some Kuhnian thing (a Kuhnian paradigm shift as far as I know is supposed to be reaching some understanding that is "untranslatable" to the older understanding).

Edited by Eiuol

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Reasoner, you seem motivated and somewhat new to Oism. I would challenge you to ask yourself how this AAA article corresponds to your experience and to Oist literature. I would also say that Kuhn's notion of a "paradigm shift" is pure irrationalist garbage and is the source of much nonsense in the philosophy of science. If you have read Kuhn and still think his work is good philosophy then something is amiss in your knowledge of epistemology. Most people though, have no idea what Kuhn actually said.

I was using the term in another context [paraphrasing from wikipedia], representing the notion of a major change in a certain though-pattern - a radical change in...complex systems, replacing the former way of thinking or organizing with a radically different way of thinking or organizing.

I have never heard of Kuhn until now and am unfamiliar with his ideas, but I'm now aware of the source of the term "paradigm shift" and will add context if I choose to use it again.

I should have said "A paradigm shift in my conceptualization of knowledge as it relates to reality."

I appreciate your responses.

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Truth involves the grasp of fact by a mind. Facts are objective. If something is established to correspond to fact, i.e. to reality, it is true.

The concept of truth exists in the context of consciousness. Fact is metaphysical; truth is epistemological, though informed by fact. Facts can exist without being true, i.e. without having been validated as such by a consciousness, though we do not know them as fact until they are established to be true.

Take for example an apple, that is, at present, red.

Its redness is a fact. And it is true that it is red. What do I mean when I say this? I mean the proposition "it is red" corresponds to fact, i.e. reality. My belief that it is red is valid.

There are any number of facts in the universe that have not yet been identified as truths, for example the diameters of as yet undiscovered stars, or the biological natures of as yet undiscovered organisms, or aspects of our own biological natures that have not yet been investigated.

But when a truth is identified, the facts identified therein are established as such once the proposition is established to be true.

How does one know if something is true, i.e. corresponds to reality? By means of reason, the faculty that establishes truth by means of logic. Reality is firm, reason and logic are objective, and contradictions cannot exist.

Edited by organon1973

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