This one is mainly to start a discussion with people working in school education. I know, it’s a boring issue; gyaani log pahale hi jawaab de chuke hain. But what is that answer?
Can the following statements be “objectively” true or false? (Truth falsity does not matter, issue is “objectivity” here.)
1. Sum of all internal angles of a triangle is always equal to two right angles.
2. The moon is spherical in shape.
3. Lower-class people commit more crimes than middle-class people.
4. A woman’s share in her father’s ancestral property should be equal to her brother’s share.
How do we decide?
1.True. (if the triangle is on a plane and not on a curved surface).
2. True moon is spherical roughly though not a perfect sphere. But if one applies the mathematical criteria of sphericalness then the statement will be false.
3. The statement requires more clarification and evidence. clarification regarding what does “lower class” mean and what does “middle class mean” and what is the definition of crime here.
How is ‘True’ different from ‘Objective’?
oh I did not respond on the objectivity part. Well i think an objective statement cannot be true and false together. secondly its truth and falsity does not depend on the person who seeks to know it. The truth or falsity depends upon some other premises or assumptions whose truth/falsity in turn establishes the the truth and falsity of the conclusion. Now if premises are universally true or false then the conclusions follow. So objectivity aspect i think depends upon these two criteria. Some examples statements whose objectivity cannot be established are:
“rose is the most beautiful flower”
“Human soul seeks happiness always” many more such.
‘Objectively’ – Since we’re talking about the objectivity here and not the empirical truth or falsity of the ideas, I guess, if you’re talking of universal objectivity, it’s not really possible.
Look at Nagarjuna’s interpretation of the ultimate reality. It isn’t the ‘sunyata’ as commonly understood, but ‘sunyata’as the lack of objective reality.Reg. statement 1 and 2 can’t be ‘objectively’ true.
Similarly, by inductive reasoning, I can find the plausibility of 2 being true or false, but not really its objective truth, not even when I actually go and see the moon, because there may come a day when another revolution provex our entire geometry futile.
Further, if that day never comes, our geometry still relies on axioms, the proof of whom has been presumed true (not proven true); Unless we have a possibility of the truth of premises, can we really talk of the possibility of the conclusion ? I wonder.
In teh socio-politico-legal context, again there will be no objective truth of 3 and 4.
So, I don’t really think it’s possible to declare any given statement’objectively’true or false(I say any, because one could always make the plea of a sceptic, to a point of radical scepticism like ‘solipsism’). I just think it’s a booby trap and an infinite regress, so might as well accept it for basic functionality 😛
If we take the meaning of objectivity as ‘independent of perceptions of any particular observer’ (as opposite of subjective judgement of a knower), then all the 4 can be turned into ‘objective’ statements. Here the onus of objectivity will rest on the community of knowers, as I am trying to show below:
1. For the sum of internal angles, the particular axioms of geometry decide the truth or falsity of inter-relations between mathematical objects. So once the axioms are accepted by a community building geometrical knowledge, then the statement can be objectively checked to be true or false. It will not remain the subjective decision of any knower.
2. ‘Sphere’ as an contrived mathematical object has a mathematical definition decided by the community of mathematicians (say, all points on the surface of a sphere are equidistant from the center in a Euclidean space). For a real object, the degree of acceptable accuracy/variation of distance from the center can be decided (e.g. for the moon it would be perhaps in the limit of a few hundred kilometers) by the community of knowers, who accept those axioms. Then, if the real object, moon, falls within that limit, it can be true or false that it is a sphere, independent of any particular knower’s perceptions.
3. For this statement, an operation definition of ‘lower class’ and ‘middle class’ has to be decided by a community of knowers. Once that is done, the truth of the statement can be checked by conducting a study of a statistically valid sample of people. This will make the study and its conclusions objective.
4. This is a moral decision, based on moral arguments. If a community makes those arguments of why it is desirable, and decides that the arguments favouring the statement are stronger, then the statement can be turned into truth for that community, independent of any particular knower, hence, objective. The community may then decide to turn it into a law.