Re: virus: accurate statements vs The Absolute Truth (was KMO

Jason McVean (
Wed, 6 Nov 96 20:07:24 MST

David McFadzean wrote:
> >Well, not if Absolute Truth defines what is true.
> Objective reality defines what is true not any description of It.

I think I have been guilty of being somewhat of a moving target.
See below.

> >I don't know that that really affects the arguemnet though. What
> >if I said that Jason McVean is less than 8 feet tall?
> >That certainly isn't true by definition but it is true
> >nonetheless. And nobody would reasonably dispute it either. But I
> >have a hard time being able to justify it if there is no such
> >thing as absolute truth. I suppose I'm equating absolute truth
> >with objective truth.
> I think that is the crux of the whole argument. A few months ago
> I would have agreed with you. But now I believe that the property
> called "truth" doesn't apply to objective reality. Atoms aren't
> true or false, neither are stereos, rocks, dogs, quasars or
> Jason McVean. Only statements *about* reality can be true or
> false. The veracity lies in the relation between a proposition
> and the referent. Therefore the Absolute Truth cannot be identical
> to Objective Reality, the former is an infinitely long conjunction
> of true propositions about reality.

I think I regret saying that Absolute Truth and Objective reality
are the same thing. What I was meaning was precisely what you
said above: "Objective Reality defines what is true". I also said
that "Absolute Truth defines what is true". That is the sense
that I was intending when I said OR was the same as AT.

> So you agree that even if the language this book is written in
> can't exist, and ipso facto the book can't possibly exists, we
> can still communicate true statements? I agree.

Here is where I may be being a moving target. My book analogy was
more whimsical than helpful. I was trying to say that OR and AT
come as a set. Objective reality has objective, true properties.
For instance, objective reality has the property that the speed
of light in a vaccuum is constant and equal to c. I'd like to
call those true properties, not my imperfect statement of them,
Absolute Truth. Then, when I make a statement such as the speed
of light is 3E8 m/s, the truth of the statement can be compared
to the relevent part of the AT. I suppose I could also say that
it could be compared to OR, but that seems cumbersome in other
cases, such as the one below.

> >I'm not sure how to reconcile the assertion that absolute truth
> >doesn't exist with the one that truth does exist. When is
> >something true when it isn't absolutely true?
> When it is true within a specific context.
> 1. Jason is 10 feet tall.
> 2. If X is over 9 feet tall X must play basketball.
> 3. Jason must play basketball.
> Statement 3 is true within the context of this argument but I
> wouldn't claim it is absolutely true, would you?

I would claim that it is absolutely true within the context of
the argument. Just as I would say that it is absolutely true that
pi=3.14 to two decimal places.

Conversely, I wouldn't agree that statement 3 is true--only
that it is true within the context of the argument.

So again, I seem to be concluding that truth=absolute truth and
so if one does not exist, neither does the other.

Can I swap some reference to objective reality for "truth"? This
would probably avoid the confusion, but then the statement
becomes really cumbersome:
"Statement 3 is not in agreement with objective reality but if
we assume objective reality is the context of the argument then
it (statement 3) agrees with objective reality."

Re: not quite KMO's definition of AT:
> >If I work from that definition then the AT must be true since it
> >is composed only of true statements. So the contention must be
> >either that such a conjunction is not possible, or that there are
> >no true statements. I don't think many here would concede the
> >latter. So is the sticking point the former?
> The sticking point might be that there are no absolutely true
> statements (except maybe within formal systems like math) or that

What I said above applies here. Unless the objection is that a
statement can't be absolutely true (and hence it can't be true)
because all statements are imperfect due to imperfect language,
non-sufficient qualification, incomplete description and so on. I
think this is the strongest case to be made and I essentially
agree. I have tried to define my way around that (see above) in
the interest retaining the term Absolute Truth (and hence truth)
to make discussion less cumbersome.

I think what follows detracts from the coherence of my post but
I'll include it nonetheless.

> the conjunction is impossible because there are an infinite number
> of true statements.

I suppose. But I'm not proposing we make the complete list. You
can have a series with an infinite number of terms even if you
can't write them all down. And in any case, if I can come up with
even a single absolutely true thing, then doesn't that mean AT


Dept. of Physics and Astronomy University of Calgary

"I am as close to you as the veins in your neck when I say to you, in
my whispering lisp, I, too, began as a boy." Mark Richard - Fishboy