How to think about truth | Psyche Guides

Source: How to think about truth | Psyche Guides

I am surprised to see it claimed that truth is a more basic concept than falsehood. In fact, it seems to me that the naive mind initially accepts any proposition at face value without having any concept of “truth”, and it is only after having had to deal with cases of error or deception that some propositions are identified as “false” – with “truth” then being defined as just the negation of falsehood.

And as for the definition, I would just say that a statement is judged as “false” if including it in my worldview leads to a subsequent feeling of disappointment with regard to the efficacy of my predictions.

I also have trouble with the following attempt to identify “objective” truth:

  • True beliefs pick out facts that exist independently of our beliefs about them.

This idea is admittedly questionable when applied to certain true beliefs, such as the belief that gold is more expensive than grapefruits. Sure enough, this belief picks out a fact: the fact that gold is more expensive than grapefruits. But if no one had ever believed that this is a fact, then it wouldn’t be a fact. The prices of objects are determined solely by humans’ social conventions, which are usually dictated by the levels of supply and demand. So, while the belief that gold is more expensive than grapefruits is true, it isn’t an objective truth.

Of course facts about our beliefs are not independent of those beliefs but they can nonetheless be objectively true facts. And it is objectively true that in certain markets gold is more expensive by weight than grapefruit. What distinguishes objective truths is not that they don’t depend on the thoughts of humans at all but that they don’t depend on particular kinds of thoughts – namely what the speaker thinks about whether or not they are true. And the claim that gold is always more expensive than grapefruit is not true just in some limited subjective sense, but rather it is objectively false since it is easy to imagine scenarios in which one would pay more for a grapefruit than for its weight in gold.

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