—“Curt do you believe in the notion of a universally verifiable truth?”—Mark Joyner
(FWIW apparently this post was interpreted by mark as offensive. I didn’t mean it to be.)
Um. You probably can’t comprehend how …. sophomoric that question is, because it’s so common a sophomoric question that like belief in flying donkeys it’s a given.
1) A person may speak truthfully… if you know what that means:
For every phenomenon there exists a most parsimonious description possible in a language that can be uttered by man.
To state the most parsimonious description of possible one needs perfect knowledge.
We are rarely if ever possessed of perfect knowledge. When we are, it is all but certain we speak of a tautology or a triviality (reductio) – and meaningless.
So even if we speak the most parsimonious description possible we may not know we do, and as such must assume our description is forever contingent.
Ergo all *testimony* (truth claim) of any substance is forever contingent.
2) We can speak in at least three categories: axiomatic, theoretic, and fictional(analogistic).
We can verify the internal consistency of an axiomatic statement, and we can attempt to construct of proof of such an axiomatic statement – assuming that the axioms themselves are internally consistent. We can declare axioms. We call internally consistent tests ‘true’ but they are merely proofs, not truths. Mathematics is axiomatic. They are only contingent upon the declared axioms.
We can only try to falsify the theoretical, and see if it survives falsification. We cannot declare laws, only discover them. We call theories (descriptions) true if they are consistent, correspondent, possible, complete, and coherent. This is a far higher standard that the must ‘simpler’ axiomatic. Real world phenomenon are theoretic.
We do not recognize the need to test the internal consistency or external correspondence (operational possibility) or coherence of fictions (analogies). Imaginary phenomenon only need be meaningful, nothing else.
One can verify the existence of evidence. But this tells us only that the evidence exists and therefore claims are not false. It does not tell us that the theory is true.
So, one does not ‘verify’ a truth proposition, only a test of internal consistency of axioms. One tests the survivability of a theory. Because it is forever contingent.
Hence why we have juries.