archaic : fidelity , constancy b: sincerity in action, character, and utterance
2 a (1): the state of being the case : fact (2): the body of real things, events, and facts : actuality (3)often capitalized : a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality b: a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true <truths of thermodynamics> c: the body of true statements and propositions
3 a: the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality b chiefly British : true c: fidelity to an original or to a standard
4 capitalized Christian Science : god
- in truth : in accordance with fact : actually
With regard to anti-realism, I have no problem with moral or aesthetic relativism; it is only physical relativism that I oppose. I appreciate that measurements (e.g. of time) may be different depending on the point of view, but once this is factored in, there should be only one correct answer to any question. It may need to be quite sophisticated to deal with the strangeness of reality (e.g. at quantum level), but there should still be a definite answer. If there were no absolute truth, no scientific theory would be better than any other. That is not to say, of course, that absolute truth will ever be attainable.
1. How do moral and aesthetic relativism differ from physical relativism? The moral/aesthetic judegments/measurements arise from a human mind; don't the physical judegments/measurements also? Obviously, the ideas of 'meter', 'molecule', 'molarity' and 'mass' are not in nature; they are ideas, which someone invented. Physics is an arbitrary order imposed on the world. If you claim that there is one correct answer to the question 'how far is x from y' because the material which was named and ordered exists independently, then doesn't it follow that 'x action is right' because the action that was arbitrarily named and catalgued as right or wrong exists? Physical relativism does not have to discount external reality, just our understanding of an absolute external reality.
The difference between moral and physical judgements is that the former are entirely human inventions, but the latter only partly so. You admit the existence of a physical external reality; but there is no corresponding 'moral external reality'. External reality has a structure, which constrains the range of ideas that we may impose on it. Having invented and defined the ideas of 'water', 'hydrogen', 'oxygen' and numbers, we have no choice but to call the formula for water H2O; calling it H3O would be 'wrong' in an absolute sense.
I admit my assumption that there is an external reality, though that assumption cannot be proven. However, I do not admit that it has a certain order. On the contrary, it is chaos, which we have ordered.
I would say that the world unfolds in some manner, with regularity.
Any system which took into account sufficient detail and which was coherent within itself would be able to do this.
It might not be able to predict the mass of precipitate in X reaction, but that may be because it does not deal in chemical reactions (i.e. it does not rest on the same division and relational system).
Paraphrasing Nietzsche, 'A certain belief or idea might be absolutely essential for survival and still be false.'
Aren't those two statements contradictory?
Yes - sufficient detail of external reality. But if the detail is wrong or inadequate, the system will not work.
Fair enough. But if it does deal in chemical reactions, it must get the figures right.
In what sense can a useful statement be false? The only sense I can think of is that, despite its usefulness, it does not correspond to external reality. What else could 'false' mean here?