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True, False, Arbitrary

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We usually treat arbitrary as false.

If someone told me there is a green man in your car in the garage, and I asked him why do you say that and he says "No reason, I just imagined it", I would assess that as being arbitrary. But I would treat it as false, not neither true or false. In other words, by ignoring it, I would be affirming that it is not true. There are no three states, true, false, or arbitrary.

If on the other hand, I got an anonymous call saying there is a green man in my car, I may go an check. By default, I am treating that as true. The source of the information has a lot of bearing on if it has evidence or not. A credible source is evidence, isn't it? Although, in this case, credibility is indeterminable.

"According to Objectivism, such a claim is not to be regarded as true or as false". "it is simply to be dismissed as though it hadn’t come up". I notice people will say "that is arbitrary" and engage in disproving the claim. Similar to how I behave (which I am questioning). But isn't the answer to the question of if something arbitrary exists "I have no way of knowing it right now?" 

Unless ignoring it means ignore it in your own thought process.

An arbitrary fact would be one obtained without any method of identification or classification according to the attributes which a consciousness observes in reality. Does that mean that to prove that something was arbitrary, one must prove a negative? That one must go through all possible methods of identification or classification and show that none were used? How else can it be proved?

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The arbitrary, is most notably covered in Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, but not specifically addressed by Miss Rand as a stand alone topic. Her usage of "the arbitrary" throughout her writings tend to support it though.

The arbitrary is often put forth as a statement of fact without any corroborating evidence. The fact that a conclusion may be true glosses over corroborative absence. Objectivity is a process of acquiring knowledge, and recognizing that in order to be true, it can be reduced hierarchically to the evidence of the senses.

Exploring the basis of a claim provides insight to the evidentiary procedure used to reach it. The lack of any evidentiary procedure is indicative where the discussion is wont to go. While the claim may be true, if the procedure used to arrive at it is flawed, then the arbitrary claim is just an arbitrary claim with no real purchase in the mind of the holder.

To evaluate an arbitrary claim as true or false relies on the evaluators' understanding of the evidence involved, not the maker of the arbitrary assertion's grasp thereof.

Edited by dream_weaver

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In Objectivism all knowledge at the level of principles is inter-related.  What makes a statement of a principle arbitrary is that it does not connect to the rest of human knowledge.  Proving a statement is arbitrary would require the review of all human knowledge, which is indeed a type of 'proving a negative' problem.  Far easier is to shift the burden of proof and require the person asserting the statement to connect it back to more common shared knowledge.  What makes all knowledge valid ultimately is its being reduced hierarchically to the evidence of the senses, as dream_weaver stated above.

Regarding the assertion of the existence of a concrete (knowledge which is not a principle), that can only be validated by perceiving it or perceiving enough indirect evidence for its existence to support a deductive conclusion.  However, requiring proof of every concrete reported to you would be tedious, so things such as traffic reports or weather reports, history books,  etc.  generally work on the basis of trust in the source based on methods used and track record.

A proposition that is not proven and not contradicted by any other knowledge simply cannot be evaluated, which is where the third state comes in.  The "other knowledge" is human knowledge not God's omniscient perspective.  For God everything would be clearly true or false with no unknown status possible.  Human knowledge is limited; even "the sum of all human knowledge" is a finite context.

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