Philosophy Quiz!

Ah, a kind reader named Darrell, one of the few entities on the Internet with a human name, has asked me about my favorite topic!

Within your system of philosophy, how is truth defined?

Is truth objective or subjective? Please show the work at how you arrived at this answer.

Can either the subjectivity or objectivity of truth (as defined by your philosophy) be proven by logic or experiment?

A statement is true if the thing said in the statement is as things really are. A man is true if he keeps his word, so that the statements he makes about himself are trustworthy.

Truth is objective. The work to show this is simple: suppose truth were not objective. Objective means that what is true for you is true for me. This is the same as supposing that a truth were false, or were mere opinion, or in some other way were not true. A statement that there is no truth, if true, is false.

The statement that truth is subjective is a self-refuting statement. If it were true, it would be true for you and not for me.

The objectivity of truth can be deduced by logic as given above, and it is metaphysical deduction, that is, it is true under all times, places and conditions in this or any other universe where words have meaning.

Experiments deduce only contingent truth, local to the universe in which one finds oneself, and only under the conditions for which the experiment correctly controls.

The idea of experiment depends upon the idea of objective truth, as does the idea of rational deduction from first principles; therefore no experiment and no reasoning can arrive at the conclusion that there is no truth, because this impeaches the method used to arrive at it.

About John C Wright

John C. Wright is a practicing philosopher, a retired attorney, newspaperman, and newspaper editor, and a published author of science fiction. Once a Houyhnhnm, he was expelled from the august ranks of purely rational beings when he fell in love; but retains an honorary title.
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3 Responses to Philosophy Quiz!

  1. gray mouser says:

    Your position, if I am reading it correctly, seems quite close to Aquinas’ statement that the True and Being are convertible terms. Is that a fair assessment?

    Also, would you agree with Thomas that truth is “the conformity of intellect and thing” (ST I, q. 16, a. 2)? (He says that this is the primary definition of truth but given your definition perhaps you’d have this as a secondary definition.)

    • I do not know enough about Aquinas to answer. I am still a student in many ways.

      I would agree that truth is a conformity of intellect and thing. That is basically what I said, albeit I used the word ‘statement’ which is an intellectual picture or sign pointing to an object, either in word or thought. I agree it is the primary definition, for if a man spoke the truth but thought untruth, my definition does not fit that example, and his does.

  2. Curubethion says:

    I’ve had someone make an interesting point: namely, whether or not truth is subjective is not nearly as important a question as “Whom is truth subjective in relation to?”

    The answer then provided is that truth is that which is true relative to God, who is a personal absolute. For all intents and purposes, this refers to what most of us term “objective truth”, however it does avoid the supposition that rigid, compassionless, impersonal absolutes are what underlie reality.

    The idea that truth is subjective on a human level is quite silly, but I think it’s possible to have all truth subjective in relation to an Absolute Divine Being…I think that omniscience and omnipotence is probably a good reason to have all truth relate to oneself.

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