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There is a close relationship between Truth and Reality. Truth (or falsehood) is a property of statements, while reality is that which actually is. In the most intuitive definition, a statement is true if it corresponds to or is consistent with reality (see Correspondence Theory of Truth.) In our discussion of truth we emphasize the formal and contingent nature of truth and our process of assessing or seeking truth (see Epistemology), especially through Science, while we refer to reality more in relation to subjective experience.

Our philosophy of truth is empirical and pragmatic. Because truth is a property of statements, it assumes the existence of language and meaning (see Linguistics and Semantics.) The truth of a statement is implicitly dependent on many things left unsaid, which we must fill in from our knowledge about the world. See The Tree of Talking.

In addition, like most human activities, our search for truth is a social activity. One of the characteristics of social in-groups is the general acceptance of particular truths and of rules for evaluating truth. If knowing the truth is useful (as Pragmatism says), then we would expect that groups with true beliefs would be more successful than those with false beliefs. That is, finding the truth is Adaptive Behavior in Cultural Evolution.

A plausible Story is almost always a component of human beliefs, scientific or otherwise. As soon as an effect is proposed, people offer explanations. It is highly subjective which story we judge a story to have “the ring of truth”, and this judgment is shaped by the values of communities we participate in.

Humans are compulsive creators of meaning and story, and once we notice a pattern, we are rarely satisfied by the explanation that it is a meaningless coincidence. It is likely that this bias is Adaptive Behavior because the cost of tentatively holding a belief is low, and this belief motivates is to watch for evidence that tests the belief. A correct story is valuable because it may allow us to predict or even manipulate what happens. The cost of an incorrect story is often low because people usually conform to social norms of prudent behavior (see Conformity Bias.) Implicitly we acknowledge that our stories may only be relevant in some limited context.

See also: Story, A Priori/A Posteriori, Just-So Stories.


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analysis/philosophy/truth.txt · Last modified: 2014/12/25 15:28 by ram