Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Do we differentiate between empirical evidence and Truth?  I'm interested in one and am not so concerned with the other.  It's far too early on a Monday for me to go into the philosophical debate about Truth (didn't we all have one of those roommates in college who would point to a chair and proclaim it did not exist?).  

There is the matter of problem solving, which requires obtaining the most accurate information possible because, when it comes to politics, policy, governance etc. -which is presumably our interest here-, our actions effect everyone, so we owe it to them to use the least discriminatory way of making decisions.  The thing about evidence is that when new, even contradictory evidence is discovered, we can adjust our repertoire of knowledge to integrate and reflect the new information.

Truth, on the other hand, by definition, is always true.  I think it is a dangerous concept because to presume to know the truth is to presume you have all the information you need - ever.  Once you agree on a Truth, you stop challenging and testing it, and if something should come along which contradicts this Truth, it is the new information, not the Truth which is discarded.  I guess there is something both willfully ignorant and arrogant about the truth.  Call me a relativist.  But at least my relativism has some humility, is always seeking knowledge and can admit mistakes.  I'm like a reed, rooted but can bend in the breeze.  

Truth is a matter of philosophy; factual evidence is a matter of science and honesty is a matter of social responsibility.   I approach philosophy like religion - believe what you want and allow me to do the same.   Few of us can prove our beliefs, but we can all share our knowledge.  I think the latter is FAR more rewarding.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 02:17:51 PM EST
I think your distinction between factual evidence and truth is an interesting concept.

But there IS another category of factual evidence that is VERY unlikely to change.  For example, I seriously doubt if the acceleration due to gravity will change much no matter how refined the instrumentation gets.  There are literally millions of such examples.

And then there are practical considerations.  We can know the distance between the 86th floor of the Empire State Building in New York and the clockworks in Big Ben in London to within a few centimeters.  Of course we should want to be willing to update our information but in such a case, whatever would be the point?

When facts get so solid, mature, and unlikely to change, they in fact become secular truths.  My father was a Lutheran clergyman.  We argued about the nature of truth--a LOT!!  I have been arguing that scientific investigation could produce better truths than any ever found in religious books (including self-help and philosophies) since I was quite young and have spent my life collecting good examples.  I am regularly astonished at the complex insights that come directly from my simple hobby.

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Tue Sep 11th, 2007 at 02:30:31 AM EST
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