Knowledge and Information LO30856

From: Terje A. Tonsberg (
Date: 12/29/03

Hello group,

One author said:

It's as if we either don't care about truth and falsity, or that we
somehow always assume that what's in our heads is true.

My comment:

This seems to be the case for many. As an aside, I find the debate
about truth and knowledge a bit puzzling - there seems to be some
confusion about the meaning of the word "truth". Especially when some
say that truth is dangerous, or blames the excesses of people like
Stalin and Hitler on the quest for truth (I don't remember if that
claim was on this list or another one -- sorry). To me truth is just
that, true, so how can it be dangerous? I think it would be more
precise to say that labelling something as true when the possibility
of falsehood remains can be dangerous.

I also feel that saying that the truth cannot be known at all is to go
too far. Some things can be known as true. For example, the following
propositions are definitely true:

The part is always smaller than its whole
Singapore is a place
Germans fought in WWII

The first two are true because to claim otherwise is blatantly absurd.
The third and fourth are true because there is no possibility of a
conspiracy to lie among the witnesses. The key then, is how to know
when the possibility of falsehood remains, not absolutely avoiding
labelling a proposition as true or false. I find the following rough
categorization useful in dealing with propositions:

Must be true (e.g. 1+1=2)
Most likely true
Likely true
Perhaps true
Likely untrue
Most likely untrue
Impossible (e.g. 1+1+1=1 is impossible)

Of course, in the 5 categories in the middle, is where falsehood
remains a possibility -- however slim.



"Terje A. Tonsberg" <>

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