# Known Truth vs Justified Claim

#### Ella S.

##### Well-Known Member
This might be the most pedantic wall of text I have ever written in my life. When even I recognize that, given my history of pedantry, that's saying something.

However, this pedantry isn't necessarily pointless. It is something that's worth keeping in mind when examining our own beliefs or critical thinking about arguments (and claims) presented to us.

So, what are known truths, how do we know them?

For something to be considered "true," it must also be "not false" according to the bivariance principle, which is just a principle that tells us that propositions are either true or false. This is a Boolean value. Something can't be "sort of true" or "a little false."

This is a concept of deductive logic, which finds most of its use in mathematics. For instance, 2+2=4 is true, but 2+2=5 is not. We can know this for certain, no doubt in our minds. In fact, it is completely impossible that 2+2=5. It would violate the Law of Identity, since the equation would simplify to 4=5.

We can also know, for instance, that there are no married bachelors, because all bachelors are unmarried by definition. This would violate the Law of Noncontradiction.

Some might say that such knowledge is little more than stating the obvious, but there is a reason why mathematicians are held in so high esteem that they can develop "proofs." Technically, not even science can "prove" anything.

Instead, science concerns itself with justified claims, which we will likely never know for sure whether they are true or false. It aims, not for truth, but for truth-likeness or verisimilitude. Rather than "proving" that something is true, we "confirm" that something has a "high truth value" which just means that it's probably true.

Indeed, these are the sorts of claims that the bulk of modern "knowledge" really associates itself with. Do you think you know where you live? Technically, under this model, you don't; it's just that your claims about where you live are justified. There is no logical necessity that you truly live there. It's possible that you don't; that you misremembered your address, suffer from dementia or psychosis, or are a brain in a vat located in a place you've never even heard of.

You can be almost certain that you know where you live, discounting these alternative explanations as unlikely, but you can never fully know that your belief about where you live is true. It just has a very high verisimilitude so that, in common parlance, it might as well be true, even if it potentially isn't.

Given all of this, do you think we should be more careful about our language around these subjects? Should we replace "I know _" with "I think that _?" Should we replace "I know how to _" with "I am able to _?"

How could we replace a term like "I know about _?"

Something can't be "sort of true" or "a little false."
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle: the electron isn't ever exactly there, or moving in exactly that direction?
Indeed, these are the sorts of claims that the bulk of modern "knowledge" really associates itself with. Do you think you know where you live? Technically, under this model, you don't; it's just that your claims about where you live are justified. There is no logical necessity that you truly live there. It's possible that you don't; that you misremembered your address, suffer from dementia or psychosis, or are a brain in a vat located in a place you've never even heard of.

You can be almost certain that you know where you live, discounting these alternative explanations as unlikely, but you can never fully know that your belief about where you live is true. It just has a very high verisimilitude so that, in common parlance, it might as well be true, even if it potentially isn't
But there is also the 5 sigma standard of a discovery being valid? The possibility that an electron belonging to my nose could actually be buzzing around on Jupiter is enormously outweighed by the probability that it is not?
How could we replace a term like "I know about _?"
It would have to be: After adding up the sum of all possibilities, it would be vanishingly unlikely that my assumption that I know where I live, is incorrect ...

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle: the electron isn't ever exactly there, or moving in exactly that direction?
My inner pedant wants to point out that this is about measuring the velocity and location, not about the electron itself.

To add to the original post, I thought I would point out that this primary division between deduction (known truth) and induction (justified claim) can also be seen in the formal sciences.

Specifically, mathematical proofs are deductive and statistical proofs are inductive. These heavy formalizations of the basic philosophical concepts outlined above have diverse utility, obviously, especially in economics and other scientific fields.

I might also point out that if we define knowledge as "a justified true belief" then, if your claim is sufficiently justified, it would also be justified to claim that you know it

So, in that sense, we come back towards the colloquial usage of the term, although the inherent distinction between deductive truth and inductive truth is still there underneath the language. Under induction, even if you are 100% certain that something will happen, it still might not.

For instance, the sun rising tomorrow has a 100% chance of happening, or at least close enough to 100% that it becomes 100% when rounded. However, speculatively, the sun might not even exist if we are in a simulation, so it may have never risen and might never rise despite the data we have indicating that it has and will.

Under deductive reasoning, something is either 100% true or 100% false, there is no in-between, and if something is true then it is necessarily true. There is no room for doubt. 2+2=4, always has, and always will.

It's that difference in the kind of the two forms of "knowledge" that's important, I think. We can be wrong about what we can justifiably claim to know.

I find Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s, three truths will often help me sort these questions about truth into neat bundles. The link is to a site that has a audio only or a video where he talks about these three truths with Joe Rogan.

https://toktopics.com/2018/08/29/neil-degrasse-tyson-on-the-three-kinds-of-truth/

powessy

Neil DeGrasse Tyson's construct of "three truths" here is informal and is not recognized in the field of epistemology.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson has made contributions to his field and promoted accessible scientific literacy.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson also frequently speaks outside of his field of expertise and, in particular, has made several errors in regards to epistemology and philosophy of science. In particular, critics have pointed out that many of his statements are concurrent with what has been named "Scientism," which refers to a set of related errors of reasoning, although I do not think NDT has committed all of these errors.

For a better understanding of Scientism, I recommend these articles:

https://sciencereligiondialogue.org/resources/what-is-scientism/

https://blog.apaonline.org/2018/01/25/the-problem-with-scientism/

Essentially, the common error is not recognizing the limitations of science. He demonstrates this by saying that "truths" discovered by science will not be contradicted in the future, which is probably false.

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You are correct about your assessments of Neil Tyson. I like the way this groups these thoughts together, only. Your thoughts about truth are expanded and complex, creating many boxes of thoughts. Neils grouping of his three truths doesn’t simplify our truths in anyway, it only helps me determine how to deal with others thoughts and how much time I will give to something to figure it out.

personally I think Neil dumbs down what he says to reach a larger audience, this also leads to criticism.

just my own thoughts on this. Thanks for the links.

powessy

Do we need to go back to Descartes or Socrates for this asks the uneducated observer.

Ps @Ella S. I am glad you hung around and found an outlet for your pedantic prose.

Do we need to go back to Descartes or Socrates for this asks the uneducated observer.

I think a bit of Descartes would help a lot of people. Cartesian doubt paved the way for modern skepticism. Although, I don't think it's fully necessary. Merely understanding that inductive reasoning is more limited than we might intuitively think can go a long way, I think.

Ps @Ella S. I am glad you hung around and found an outlet for your pedantic prose.

This genuinely made me laugh. Me too.

wil