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1 11th August 20:04
lesterdelzick
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Default Tautologies and Empirical Truth


Tautologies and Empirical Truth
--------------

In a frank discussion with Wolf Kirchmeir yesterday concerning whether
tautologies constitute empirical evidence he took occasion to remind
me quite candidly that tautologies are always true. And the moral he
drew from this was that tautological truths can't be empirical because
empirical observations are always problematic and tautologies are not.

Then I got to pondering. It seemed a shame to have something that was
always true and not be able to draw some useful information from it.
Here was this beacon of universal truth, and we had no use for it. I
understood that philosophers and scientists consider tautologies
useless despite their universal truth. However, I decided that the


Let's suppose we have a tautology, any tautology. And we recognize the
universal truth of that tautology. What conclusions can we draw from
this?

If a tautology is universally true, alternatives to the tautology
cannot be true and must be universally false. And, further, this
must be true of all tautologies.

Consequently, everything including empirical evidence represents a
tautology or it cannot be true and must be false.

Thus any empirical observation which is problematic must represent
part of a tautology. For example, three inches and not three inches or
blue and not blue. These are empirical observations and form parts of
tautologies or they cannot be problematic and must be false.

In point of fact each part of a tautology is an empirical observation,
and this is what we mean by an empirical observation despite the
conventional interpretation of empirical observations as inherently
problematic.

Further each part of the tautology is subject to evaluation either in
terms of problematic correctness or in terms of self contradiction. If
either part of a tautology is self contradictory, it must be false and
the other part must be universally true whether empirical in
conventional problematic terms or not.

In other words, even though tautoligies in themselves are not
problematic and cannot represent empirical observations, the reverse
is not true and empirical observations can and do represent parts of
tautologies.

And finally we conclude that all this must be true because the
combination of tautology and not tautology itself forms a tautology
and must always be true.

Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating.

The tautology has finally proven useful after all.

Regards - Lester
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2 12th August 13:04
wolf kirchmeir
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Default Tautologies and Empirical Truth


"Always true" does not mean "universal truth."
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3 12th August 13:04
lesterdelzick
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Default Tautologies and Empirical Truth


Aw, c'mon, Wolf, you're quibbling. If something is always true, it's
true for all things everywhere at all times. If it's not true for all
things everywhere, it's not true all the time. Totally irrelevant.

Regards - Lester
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4 12th August 13:04
stephen harris
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Default Tautologies and Empirical Truth


I am more sympathetic to Wolf's original point, which was something
which is logically/tautologically true does not have an empircal (physical
reality) implication. Of course if the premise is true about reality then
the argument is called sound and then has an actual implication about
reality,
because you are essentially just stating a fact about reality.

The earth is roughly round because the surface always loosely fits a curve,
Stephen
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5 12th August 13:04
wolf kirchmeir
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Default Tautologies and Empirical Truth


Yup, you're right. It's even true of things that don't exist. And of
things that cannot exist. Great things, tautologies. A deal more
powerful than universal truths, in fact, which for some reason are
limited to things that exist. At least, that's how I learned to use the
phrase. You're welcome, as always, to play at Humpty Dumpty. But
remember what happened to him, not too much after Alice talked to him.
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6 12th August 13:04
patty
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Default Tautologies and Empirical Truth


Well for some interpretation of your words, i think you are skirting
dangerously close to rediscovering a bit of wisdom from an eminent 20th
century philosopher.

This is the way i see it ...

A truth is stated from some web of belief. Outside of that web it may,
or may not be true. The question is whether some agent in the web must
sense something outside of the web to determine a truth. For example a
person in the web of literate English speakers would say it true that a
bachelor is unmarried and male. No one in that web needs to check
outside of that web to be quite confident that truth applies in all
cases - no matter what.

But outside of that web (literate English speakers) this may not be the
case. Let me set a scene. There was an attractive widow and her young
daughter named Bernice. The widow was seeking a new husband. Frequently
in the presence of Bernice she would ask a man, "Are you a bachelor?"
and if he answered yes, she would gladly accept his advances; otherwise
she would sternly rebuff him. Now occasionally Bernice would mingle
with these same men in the market and on occasion she would be
introduced to their wifes. Now you can see that from Bernice's web of
belief a bachelor may be married or not, you must ask him to find out.

So we see, that whether a truth is ****ytic or synthetic is totally
dependent on your web of belief. Or in your words "even though
tautologies in themselves are not contingent and cannot represent
empirical observations, the reverse is not true and empirical
observations can and do represent parts of a web of belief." ... but i
have substituted "contingent" for your "problematic" and "web of belief"
for your use of "tautology".

For another discussion please see:
<http://www.philosophos.com/knowledge_base/archives_15/philosophy_questions_1513.html>
or just read it in the original:
<http://www.ditext.com/quine/quine.html>

patty
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7 12th August 13:05
bkaz_
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Default Tautologies and Empirical Truth


I think you're confusing truth (correpondence to reality) with
consistency (correpondence to definitions). No question tautology can
be useful: all of math is a tautology, but is about mental economics, not about truth.
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8 12th August 13:05
lesterdelzick
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Default Tautologies and Empirical Truth


On 27 Oct 2004 21:31:13 -0700, bkaz_@hotmail.com (bkaz) in


Not yet, perhaps. But if math corresponds to reality through tautology
drawn in terms of differences then it is universally true through the
inherent self contradiction of alternatives. Of course that remains an
open question at present.

Regards - Lester
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9 12th August 13:05
lesterdelzick
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Default Tautologies and Empirical Truth


Yeah, that'll really do a lot of good.


patty, you really need to take that web of belief back to the church
where you bought it and get a refund. It doesn't matter where ideas
originate. It matters where they wind up through demonstration.

Problematic means contingent.

Regards - Lester
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10 12th August 13:05
lesterdelzick
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Default Tautologies and Empirical Truth


Yes, yes, Wolf, I can readily appreciate your concern for my eggs,
which I expect you'd like to break yourself. But neither tautologies
nor universal truths are limited to things that exist. Sounds like a
few of your eggs have been broken already.

Regards - Lester
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