Objective truths?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Quantum Quack, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Definition ~ Objectivity ~ controversial
    ~ wiki

    The first thing I wanted to propose is that we accept the possible limitations placed upon this enquiry due to our inferior knowledge of what constitutes mind-Independence and there-to mind dependence. However I will not be requiring the mind dependency criteria to be questioned in the same way it is often done.
    I am also confident that this type of example has been used before and probably invalidated accordingly but as yet I have not found reference to it on the net.
    If someone knows of an appropriate link that deals with this issue please post it.


    Putting concepts such as the Matrix [fantasy] aside for the moment and dealing with "hard" reality it can be shown conclusively, I believe, that substance can not pass through substance with out re-integrating those substances.
    In other words it could be deemed an objective fact that a man [substance/matter] can not pass through a brick wall and neither can any observers universally pass through that same brick wall if they are made of substance [matter/mass] with out either re-integrating their own substance or that of the wall. edit: with use of volition and deliberate use of will.

    The wall or material barrier in this instance would have to be destroyed or the man himself would have to suffer damage to pass through this barrier. Either way both material substances, man and wall, would suffer change due to the transition.

    This I believe is an objective truth as this is also a shared fact amongst all universal percievers, that I would love to see refuted if at all possible, with out calling in fantasy like the Matrix and other.

    1. A man can not pass through a wall with out undergoing re-integration or change.
    2. This is mind independent. Therefore according to the definition quoted an Objective truth.
    3. Truth Consensus is irrelelvant, as consensus is not required nor necessary.

    • If this [the impossibility of the man passing through the wall with either the wall or himself unchange by the passage ] is indeed found to be an objective truth then what says it of the objectivity / subjectivity debate?
    • Like wise if found to be subjective what says it of the same debate?
    • How would this be considered as mind-Dependant? If the contention is refuted?

    The above is about creating a position on the subject using an extreme circumstance. It does not imply that it is founded or correct but it is merely a "poser" to solicit further understanding of the vexation between objectivity and subjectivity

    Care to discuss?

    Preferred definition of "discussion":
    Main Entry: dis·cus·sion
    Pronunciation: \di-ˈskə-shən\
    Function: noun
    Date: 14th century
    1 : consideration of a question in open and usually informal debate
    with the view to improve understanding yet not necessarily agreement.
    2 : where reaching an agreement is welcome but unnecessary.

    The definition of Objective Truth that I am using is:
    An event or lack of event that can be indepentantly assessed/confirmed as true as opposed to "False" by a universal population of observers.

    A note for wanna be flamers:
    You can be better served posting your deliberate flaming and attempt at derailment of topic to this thread specifically designed to faciliate such activity:
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
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  3. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

    I have developed a kind of policy for not employing philosophy against what you call "hard" reality. I have my own reasons and I hope below examples will give some hints why:

    In the Wikipedia entry of "Objectivity (philosophy)" there is a following passage under the subtitle of "Subjectivity" which says:

    And there is a good reason for this: Simply if we don't state the conditions properly, we can not make science. Let's go back to your condition/claim:

    In other words it could be deemed an objective fact that a man [substance/matter] can not pass through a brick wall and neither can any observers universally pass through that same brick wall if they are made of substance [matter/mass] with out either re-integrating -change- their own substance or that of the wall.

    As you may realize I added "change" next to "re-integrating" since you included this word in the summary part of your OP. You are giving two solids (man and wall) as example to "substance/matter" class. You must admit that solid is not the only form of substance/matter in the universe. If we clash solid with liquid, solid with gas, or liquid with gas, we can perfectly preserve both substances without re-integrating and/or changing them. However, here we have another problem: How do you define "change"?; how do we "not change" them? If you are talking about chemical composition we can still preserve H2O composition of water, and physical formation of a man when we clash these two substances. Both will go back to previous state without any harm and both have mass.

    Another problem: Neutrinos are particles and they have mass, and they also are "able to pass through ordinary matter almost undisturbed" (Wikipedia). Here is your "Matrix" without a human fantasy, totally independent from subjective judgement or imagination.

    One more issue: Imagine a single atom travelling in space without an attachment or clash to anything else. Is it possible? When you consider the rich gas environment in space I think it is possible. Even if there isn't any significant contact to other substances (in this assumption I ignore the passing through neutrinos; just concentrate on a single atom). Now we can still talk about "change" due to internal dynamics of atom, a.k.a. "decay".

    Your "hard" reality is not very "hard" after all. Moreover, if we take the word "substance" seriously, and try to define its meaning "physically"; we will also reach some other physical substances (Wikipedia directs us to "physical property") such as magnetic field or temperature which has no mass at all.

    Everything is conditional, temporal, depending upon space and time as well as measurements in this universe. Even "objectivity" or making science depends on all these conditionality as much as the level of knowledge and technological possibilities of a given civilization. Oh, aims and intentions of the observant too; and sometimes discovering "truths" by accidents: Fantastic realm of serendipity.

    Is it possible to develop certain relatively "objective" umbrellas for our "subjective" perspectives; or more specifically, can we establish widely accepted "truth regimes" for our subjective concepts? That is to say, if there is no objectivity in nature without its isolated conditions (certain temperature, certain physical appearance, certain this and that), can we create at least similar type of conditional "objectivity" for our supremely subjective human universe? I find them more challenging...
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  5. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    QQ, you failed to recognize the restrictions placed upon the scope of the term "objective".
    Note in the wiki quote above, the terms "proposition" and "truth conditions". "Objective" is not a term that applies whatsoever to your examples.
    This is known as a "category mistake" or, "fallacy of composition/division".

    When you conclude that "this" may be found to be an objective truth, what exactly is the "this" you're referring to?
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  7. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Interesting and thanks...
    However the purpose of the OP was to focus on a single easy to understand example or scenario involving a living human being and a solid brick wall and a universal population of observers.
    The reason for doing this is to not confuse the issue with possible variations that may dissolve the focus. As one only needs to show objectivity in one instance and this will immediately have ramifications on others.

    So to stay on track we have only:
    one male human being and a brick wall with a universal population of perceivers/observers.

    The wall would have to be pulled-down/ dis-integrated in some way to allow him passage. It would be impossible for him to pass through the wall unless someone can show how he may do so with out pulling the wall down or in some way significantly changing the wall.

    The scenario has nothing to do with interpretations of perception or does it?
    note: the OP has been amended to avoid confusion ~regarding the summary
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
  8. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    how so? [ maybe you are right! ]
    Please understand that I am offering a controversial proposition and it will of course involve a bit of deeper thought.
    the mind dependency issue has become redundant to the extent that regardless of what is sensed, believed or thought the sheer fact remains that a man can not pass through the wall without significant change. Also it is worth noting that the universal population can not possibly do likewise, therefore all observers universally would agree that the man cannot pass through the wall and that no other material observerof similar mass and size can either.
    If all observers universally would agree that this is the case regardless of their subjective opinions, sensory interpretation etc etc then the question of an objective truth becomes a possibility of being answered as yes.
    The man can be independantly assessed with out consensus, ...as contended, by all universal observers.
    [of course I am presuming that the laws of physics are universally consistant.]

    note: the OP has been amended to avoid confusion ~regarding the summary
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
  9. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    I amended the OP to show this in the conclusion section.
  10. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    If any one has a better way of putting the basic issue to the board please offer such...
    using a man, a wall, and a universal population of observers, if possible.
  11. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    please note this thread is a discussion and not intended to be overly formal
  12. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

    You see, that's where the problem starts: It required presentation of some "penetration without damage" scenarios to eliminate your "substance/material" words from your original example construction. Now you are claiming that your example is simple. So why don't you eliminate, for instance, "living" adjective? Is it necessary for your solid clashing example? Readers will necessarily be pushed to concentrate on every single word in your example as you are challenging a perfectly well constructed definition of "objectivity". As far as I understand, -accepting that your example is simple-, you have a problem with the "mind-independent" part of the definition. Am I wrong? Let's try focusing on your "Conclusion" part:

    It simply says, objective truth must be free from "personal opinion". And personal opinion is anything produced by a subjective mind; anything beyond what you call "hard reality" falls into subjective area. Determination of what is "hard reality" and what is not is also determined by questioning what type of methods, measurements, or experiments are employed.

    If we follow your "simple" example, we have to agree on postulates first before we make any judgement on man smashing wall experiment:

    What is solid? What are the qualities associated with solid?
    Is wall solid? What are the evidences of the solidity of our wall?
    Is man solid? What are the evidences of the solidity of our man?
    What is real? Do man and wall fulfil the requirements of real?
    What is the aim? Putting man to the other side of the wall?
    What is the method? (Man crashing -direct contact- to the wall)
    What is the expected result?

    Up until here, forget about a four year old can figure out what's going to happen after this experiment without using any philosophical scrutiny; even an animal can judge the immediate result. If an animal can figure out the physical reality, we don't have any human involvement whatsoever, therefore we can talk about "mind-independent" situation. It's a physical reality.


    If we are talking about existence forms which has no brain at all, for instance a piece of rock rolling towards a wall, neither the wall nor the rock has the necessary piece of equipment (mind) to judge the results of anything. I hope you are not talking about this situation. I assume that we are talking about creatures or agents which has capability of judgement.

    When all above conditions are fulfilled, eliminating the possibility of "Matrix" type fantasies, we can confidently say that there is nothing subjective in this example.

    No, scenario has nothing to do with interpretations as long as we take it in its simplest form.

    If you are still objecting the definition, this might be to the part that says:

    But lack of this universality is because of the "philosophical" parenthesis of the term. Because philosophy does not deal with objectivity in the first place: All topics of philosophy are open to subjective discussion, so how do you expect a solid, objective limits from this discipline without taking into consideration of all possible subjective presentation possibilities of any problem. This is not the job of philosophy.

    If you go and check the "Objectivity (science)" entry from the Wikipedia, you will see this definition:

    As you can see, there is no "lack of universally accepted" type of conditional suspicion: And your wall-human example falls into this perspective. You can not employ a definition from philosophical discipline and test it with physical example. You can, but don't expect any consistency. Try to use scientific version of objectivity for your example or try to find a philosophical example for your philosophical Objectivity.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
  13. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member


    I already explained how so. Category mistake.

    Sorry, I forgot to supply the link in my original response.

    Category Mistake

    Think of it this way: it is illegitimate, and non-sensical to inquire about "flavourful triangles".

    The development is irrelevant. The term "objective" does not obtain within the scope of your concern.
    As you yourself noted in your wiki quote, "objective" can only obtain within the domain of a proposition whose elements are subject to truth-functional analysis. Obviously, the domain of actual 'men' and 'walls' do not fall within this domain.
    This is why, typically, when discussing the use of "objective" within the context that you're concerned with (material reality), and entirely different definition of "objective" is made use of: the scientific one.
  14. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Thanks so much for going to the trouble and posting the above. It will take a little time to study and I shall post my response later.

    I believe you have raised some valid issues with the simple "man/wall/universe" scenario.
    Does it "kill" the contention? I am not sure...
  15. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Thanks Glaucon I shall have a bit of a deeper think about it all... an post later.
    you may have missed the edit of the OP to include my specific definition of Objective truth.
    possibly the issue of defining objective truth need to be thrashed about agiain...
    and yes you have nailed the communicative issue most concisely!
    I am mixing scientific with philosophical approaches which is unfortunately necessary when working towards a golden mean or a bridge between the two disciplines of objective science and subjective philosophy.
    And I might add in both fields, scientific and philosophical, categroies are often determined by theorums or hypothesis that are in fact being inadvertantly [regarding ontology] challenged as to their validity by most of my threads directly.

    Example as per your link regarding MIND/BODY issue as being separate categories when I would automatically treat then as one due to the attempt to unify both concepts as one concept.
    So yes I am being a tad contraversial in category usage. [by the current school]
    In fact in have had to coin a new term for the combined fields ~ "nysics" for my own clarification needs.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
  16. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    Yes, you're right, I did miss the edit. Sorry.

    Fair enough; and you raise some good points here.
    I do think however that, given the restrictions inherent in the philosophical definition, although the scientific definitions no doubt prove to be somewhat too subjective (or highly contextual) for you, as baftan has also mentioned, the scientific interpretation would be a better place to start from.

    In any case, always being a stickler for language and logic precision, I do believe that I've somewhat sidetracked the thread off it's main focus.
    mea culpa

    To me, given your OP, I think the most interesting element is that of the assessment of purported "objectivity" by observers.

    I'll be very interested in reading on the expansion of this line of thought.

  17. hrebic Registered Senior Member

    I see terms like "objective truth" and "objective reality" used almost interchangeably in the OP. I don't regard them as necessarily meaning the same thing.

    I believe that there are objective truths, even though such truths may be abstract. For example, if I am given a proposition that all A are B, and another proposition that all B are C, then I can say that by the rules of Aristotelian Logic, the statement "all A are C" is true. And it would be objectively true in the sense that any individual who applied these rules given the same inputs would reach the same conclusion.

    Context is critical. For example, it is objectively true that you can't take the square root of a negative number, if you are using real number math. All mathematicians would agree. But you can take the square root of a negative number if you are working with complex math. So the truth-value of the proposition "You can't take the square root of a negative number" would have to depend on the context: Are we talking about real math or complex math (or some other type of math). The context behind the proposition needs to be defined.

    But then there is the question of objective reality, which does not concern the abstract.

    Most people live their lives as though objective reality exists. But what if it doesn't? What alternatives are there to consider?

    The trivial case is solipsism - the idea that objective reality is a fiction created by the self. Your example of the man not being able to pass through a brick wall seems to be to be an attempt to refute this solipsistic alternative to objective realism. If all that is real is created by the self, then why can't the self will the man through the brick wall?

    Although the brick wall example may be convincing on the everyday world of experience, there are some problems. As others have commented, modern physics can be used to provide counterexamples. One example I would give is quantum-tunneling. A sub-atomic particle can be thought of as a probability wave through space. Quantum mechanics recognizes that it is possible for a particle to pass from one point to another without interacting with other particles in between. There is a very small, but positive probability that all of the atoms in the man will suddenly jump from one side of the wall to the other without affecting the wall. This probability is exceedingly small, and the time one would have to wait to expect for something like this to happen is extremely long, but if the universe is infinite then not only can it happen - somewhere it eventually must happen.

    There is another scientific challenge to the concept of objective reality. It was proposed in the form of a riddle known as Schrodinger's Cat. A cat is placed inside an opaque, soundproof box which contains a sample of radioactive substance, a geiger-counter, and a mechanism which releases poison inside the box when the geiger-counter detects a decay event. Once released, the poison kills the cat.

    Radioactive decay is truly random. An observer outside the box would not know at any given time whether the cat was alive or dead. Only by opening the box can the observer determine the cat's condition. Thus the cat's existence or non-existence cannot be determined independently as long as the box remains closed. This would appear to violate the concept of objective reality, at least as we normally think of it.
  18. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    There is no doubt your post requires more than what an internet forum system can offer but I'll give it a shot and see what you think.

    The reason I used a conscious living man [ the intention was to have a man attempt to deliberately by force of will pass through the wall] was to maintain the issue of perception and thus the mind dependency criteria mentioned in the comments about objective truth provided by wiki. in the OP as a significant part of the discussion.
    Primarily to see if progress could be made with perception and mind dependency included. [ to see if we can rule out perception and mind dependency as being irrelevant which is what I tend to believe is the case]

    Thus as you and Glaucon have pointed out I have Mixed domains and/or forced an ontological error. [ inadvertently too I might add as I only realized the issue of mixing not only categories but entire Sciences today, after Glaucons post.]

    The man himself at the center of this scenario is also a part of the universal population of observers and must conclude as all observers must conclude independently of each other that the wall stops passage if change to the man or the wall is to be avoided.

    As the term "objectivity" is only a term needed to be used by those with the intellect to use it [ the non-self-animated universe has no interest in what word we use] it then falls upon the entire universal community to independently agree that the wall poses a barrier that prevents the man from passing through as the man himself would testify also independently as he simply has to admit he can not pass through the wall regardless of what he perceives or how he interprets that perception. Objective truth to that universal community of observers could possibly be valid.

    [ Presumption of relatively normal cognizant capacity of a healthy human being unaffected by any drugs or other artificial influences, or mental health issues that prevent a deliberate attempt being made to pass through and a final assessment from being arrived at.]
    Further to this the man can be considered as a prime example of the rest of the universal community of observers in that assuming they all share similar abilities to deliberately attempt to pass through the wall and make a basic assessment about possibility or not independently of each other. Thus avoiding the "truth by consensus" issue.

    However the minds involvement is restricted not to preception but actual physical movement and simply whether it is possible to pass through the wall or not. Which is why I posted in the OP:
    As we are not talking about information derived via the senses other than that the wall is not able to be passed through. And as all observers including the man would undoubteldy arrive at the same conclusion regardless of what they sensed any way, the inability to pass through that wall could be considered as is the contention, to be an objective truth experience-able by the entire universal observer population.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
  19. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    We can I feel for the sake of the limitations of thread style discussion assume that the wall is made of asubstance that would prevent any man from passing through.
    It could be solid iron with a chrome plating to avoid scratching his way through.
    the gedanken is really simple and doesn't need to be constructed as a detailed engineering feat IMO.

    A man by normal means cannot pass through this wall. The questions are though is this possibly able to be considered as an objective truth.? [ under the philsosophical definition given that mind dependancy whilst still needed is effectively irrelevant to the outcome.]
    How is this possible if at all possible?

    thus I am between a rock and a hard place as they say...
    of a man trying to break through a wall that is impossible to break through. [chuckle]
    However possibly some good may come of it as the thread evolves...
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
  20. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Possibly it is worth considering allowing the restriction of irrelevance to be placed on the mind dependency factor using the philosophical definition of objectivity.?

    The main reason for doing so is that what the mind percieves is irrelevant of the outcome, in that regardless of perception the man simply can not pass through the wall.

    thus perception could be irrelevant, there to could "mind dependancy".
    So using the philosophical definition may as yet be successful given that the "mind dependancy" criteria, whilst still needed, could be deemed irrelevant to the outcome.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
  21. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    interesting post and thanks...
    I agree with most of what you have stated I find no complaint except that as stated earlier from a philsophical perspective we only have to show one single event as being objective using the philosophical definition and we have a major philosophical bun fight on our hands.

    Because as you know, and I have only recently discovered, the philosophical definition is almost bullet proof when it comes to the mind dependancy issue.
    However be that as it may every thing is subject to change if there is a need to allow it.

    regarding Shrodinger's cat gedanken, the cat still remains in the chamber dead or alive. It is only the life of the cat that is in question. The need is to define "existance" when considering a living or dead cat. Does the cat exist even if it is dead? Certainly it's organic body is still organic as it decomposes. Define organic in terms of life and so on...

    Is life an objective truth....hmmmmmm certainly the dead remains of the cat would be deemed to be an objective truth by sciences definition?

    Given the right sort of chamber there is no reason to expect the cat's body dead or alive to not be present when the door is finally opened to find out.

    And as science has at yet not determined what life is I am not sure they are qualified to determine it's existance or not.. [ I mean not to sound silly about it I might add, but just exploring what the gendanken means beyond the usual interpretation.] an ontological error perhps?
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
  22. Kennyc Registered Senior Member

    The only objective truth are the (current) laws of physics.
  23. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    can I ask about future laws, will they be objective truths as well even if they may replace existing laws?

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