The debate "All arguments are subjectiveso there is no absolute truth and all points ofview have equal validity" was started by
November 14, 2019, 2:49 pm.
18 people are on the agree side of this discussion, while 33 people are on the disagree side.
That might be enough to see the common perception.
It looks like most people are against to this statement.
marky posted 1 argument to the agreers part.
Nemiroff posted 3 arguments, MarGa posted 2 arguments, TheExistentialist posted 5 arguments to the disagreers part.
Cisco, marky and 16 visitors agree.
Nemiroff, MarGa, Zizza, Annie, TheExistentialist, romkirk95, carson, MrShine, jrardin12 and 24 visitors disagree.
Well we should not debate to be right, we should debate to understand ones point of view.
To say "there is no absolute truth" is an absolute truth.
I'd argue that points of view are simply the results of arguments that have been convincing enough to accept their conclusion.
"so I was talking to to whether a conclusion was actually correct"
In logic conclusions are never up for debate. They are essentially irrelevant since we can only come to know the truth of conclusions through the premises and the logical structures that make up the "proof" for a conclusion.
"The context the original poster brought to his point makes it look like the more common definition of validity, that includes soundness, was more relevant."
the reason for breaking down arguments into validity and soundness rather than combining them is to analyze thought process as well as objective truth claims.
So let's say someone has the point of view that "the sun will not rise tomorrow'.
If you ask them why they hold that believe and they tell you
The sun doesn't rise everyday
Therefore the sun will not rise tomorrow
you can look at their reasoning and immediately see that their "point of view" is not based on good reasoning before ever looking at the truth claims of their premises. This is of course much more useful if their reasoning is more complex and contains multiple premises, etc... We can start by pointing out that their belief of the sun not rising tomorrow isn't supported by the claim that it doesn't rise everyday.
If however, they claim
The sun doesn't rise on tuesdays
Tomorrow is tuesday
therefore the sun will not rise tomorrow
we can say that they have reasoned through the problem correctly; however the information they're working with may not be correct.
In this case we have to look at the truth of the premises. Once we have determined that premise 1 or 2 are false, we can objectively say that the conclusion is wrong.
In cases where premises are difficult to verify/falsify, structure allows us to see if we should bother analyzing claims for accuracy in the first place. This is especially useful in cases where investigating the truths of premises can be costly and resources need to be managed.
I agree that using the philosophical definition of a valid argument makes it impossible for all arguments to be equally valid. But, the original poster was talking about 'points of view" and subjectivity so I was talking to to whether a conclusion was actually correct, technically whether it was sound or not, not just logically valid. The context the original poster brought to his point makes it look like the more common definition of validity, that includes soundness, was more relevant.
"Validity is defined as soundness of logic or fact" that's the dictionary definition, not the technical definition.
The technical definition is "an argument is valid if and only if it takes a form that makes it impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion nevertheless to be false."
"but you have ignored my point about factual validity"
no; facts are part of soundness. We've simply separated structure from content by using validity and soundness from the field of logic rather than the dictionary definition that conflates the two. This lets us talk about strength of an argument based on its structure and then we can evaluate content separately.
Let's look at your example again. We have two arguments:
Premise: The sun raises every day
Conclusion: Therefore, it will rise tomorrow.
Premise: The sun does not rise everyday,
Conclusion: Therefore it will not rise tomorrow.
Just looking at structure (validity); A1 necessarily produces the conclusion if the premise is true. A2 does not necessarily produce the conclusion even if the premise were true. Even if the sun didn't raise everyday, it still might rise tomorrow. In order to make A2 be valid, the premise would have to be altered to something like:
P1: The sun does not rise on Tuesdays
P2: Tomorrow is tuesday
C: Therefore the sun will not rise tomorrow
P1: The sun never rises
C: Therefore the sun will not rise tomorrow
When we talk about validity we talk about the ability of an argument to produce reliably true conclusions. It's simply a way to assess strength not content.
"But I still think it's important to be skeptical of your own beliefs and underlying assumptions"
this has nothing to do with validity of an argument.
Going back to A1 and look at soundness.
When we look at soundness we are sceptics. We look for any and all reasons to falsify any of the premises or look for any and all reasons why relations between premises might be false (this is more so the case in more complex arguments where multiple premises have to be true in order for the conclusion to be true and where IFF, and/or, XOR, NOR, NAND, etc... relations must also be assessed.).
"But I still think it's important to be skeptical of your own beliefs and underlying assumptions."
That's why we have systems like formal and informal logic that give us clear, reliable, and proven modalities of looking at arguments and breaking them down to give us the most accurate and true statements possible.
Validity is defined as soundness of logic or fact. An argument or proposition needs both to be correct.
You've focused on logical validity, and I agree with everything you've said about it, but you have ignored my point about factual validity. It's not logical validity that makes opposing arguments equally valid. You can set up whatever premise you want but there's no guarantee the conclusion will be correct/factually valid, like you did with the toaster.
Premise 1: The sun rises every day.
Premise 2: Premise 1 may be false.
Conclusion 1: The sun will rise tomorrow.
Conclusion 2: The sun will not rise tomorrow.
If we accept the sun definitely rises every day then it will rise tomorrow. If we accept premise 2 as well then it's impossible to know which conclusion is true. Premise 2 introduces an unknown that makes both conclusions equally valid, without adding more premises.
To prove if premise 1 is true or false you must observe it. But how do we know it will happen every day? We cannot observe tomorrow right now. We extrapolate. We theorise. This is vulnerable to unknown unknowns that can hide facts that can make the premise factually invalid.
With this said, it's insane to be skeptical of whether the sun will rise tomorrow. But I still think it's important to be skeptical of your own beliefs and underlying assumptions. Unknown unknowns are dangerous little things.
"Isn't this just begging the question?"
How so? When using truth tables we're not making any claim about the truth value of a premise or conclusion; we're looking at validity (strength in essence) of an argument. Validity is a matter of structure not content.
"If we ignore underlying assumptions then propositions like "the sun will not rise tomorrow" are just as likely as their affirmations, that it will rise. Does that make all claims equally valid? Yes and no."
that's not an argument; that's a statement. It's neither valid nor invalid. The same is true for the claim "the sun will rise tomorrow". It's neither valid nor invalid since it's not an argument.
All popes reside at the Vatican.
John Paul II resides at the Vatican.
Therefore, John Paul II is a pope.
This is an invalid argument even though the conclusion is true.
Validity refers to the ability of an argument to convey truth. The structure above is unable to reliably produce true conclusion even if the premises are true. Invalid arguments are invalid because their structure is such that it can produce false conclusions in the presence of true premises. Take the example above; if we replace John Paul II with Eugene (a fictional janitor for arguments sake) the argument structure remains the same, the conclusion is false however even though the premises are true.
Soundness is the assessment of the premises for truth.
All toasters are items made of gold.
All items made of gold are time-travel devices.
Therefore, all toasters are time-travel devices.
the argument is valid, since the truthfulness of the premises guarantees the conclusion. However, the premises are false and therefore the argument is not sound. Soundness is the evaluation of premises for truthfulness.
However, evaluating an invalid argument for soundness is nonsensical since the truthfulness or falsehood of the premises have to impact on the conclusion of an invalid argument.
"How do we know when the conclusion follows the premise?"
through a simple logic table. Here is an example of a pretty simple Truth table that checks for validity. "
Isn't this just begging the question?
A logic table is built on reason. Reason is observation generalised into theory (induction) or theory evidenced by observation (deduction). To record true or false values in logic tables you must observe, and observation is vulnerable to sleeping variables. With the possibility of unprecedented events waking up sleeping variables it's impossible to be certain that a conclusion necessarily follows a premise with unknowns.
In engineering we use logic tables to build basic control circuitry. Those tables are built on theories of how transistors make logic gates with electricity. We then use our definitions of logic gates to build a theoretical model of the system.
In the theoretical model we cannot be incorrect because we have stripped away the unknowns. Our assumptions and definitions give us axioms, and those axioms create self-evident proofs. It's possible to prove a priori that an XOR gate can be built by connecting 4 NAND gates. The conclusions are self-evident and necessarily follow the premises.
But, in a real system the conclusion is not self-evident because we cannot strip away unknowns. That's the difference between a model (be it an engineering, linguistic, or mathematical model) and a real system. Unknowns make the system vulnerable to sleeping that may awake after unprecedented events and change everything we know about our underlying assumptions.
If we ignore underlying assumptions then propositions like "the sun will not rise tomorrow" are just as likely as their affirmations, that it will rise. Does that make all claims equally valid? Yes and no.
Ignoring assumptions is what Descartes did. All he proved was he existed because without assumptions claims have no way to compare. I see this as meaning most of our beliefs are not accurate but they cover enough for us to function. We should be skeptical and open to things we don't believe, but you probably shouldn't be skeptical of all observations, even if you're a lawyer, jurer, scientist or schizophrenic.
We don't want to be susceptible to the hurbis of our ancestors who believed they knew everything, or the Dunning-Kruger effect where we ignore unknown unknowns.
"How do we know when the conclusion follows the premise?"
through a simple logic table. Here is an example of a pretty simple Truth table that checks for validity.
Here are some examples of formal truth tables
Here is a Truth Tree that shows how an argument is built, the relations between premises, etc....
In logic you use these tools to analyze the structure of an argument rather than just the content. Once you have the structure broken down you would test for formal fallacies which would invalidate an argument.
If an argument has been deemed valid, you would use informal logic to test soundness by checking for informal fallacies, checking to see if premises are true and that the relations between the premises are accurate.
"a fetus has life, therefore it must live"
This is a bad argument as there are too many implied premises. However, if we do look at this argument and include the implied premises it would not be a valid argument as there are multiple instances of this conclusion not following the premise. If a fetus is alive but implanted ectopically, it must be aborted as it's not viable and would also kill the mother.
How do we know when the conclusion follows the premise?
for example: a pro-life would say "a fetus has life, therefore it must live". for pro-life it is a valid argument, but for a pro-abortion to have life does not imply that it should live
I'm going to rephrase your statement a little bit because I don't think "opinion" is the best term. Argument is a much better term since opinions are simply arguments that have been persuasive enough to accept and adopt into a believe system.
Not all arguments are subjective. Therefore the first horn of the argument already negates the actual claim.
Even if an argument is based on "opinion" rather than objective truths like "the earth is flat" argument that @Nemiroff pointed out or 1+1=2, there is still the body of evidence that supports that opinion to consider.
Let's look at something like "is homosexuality right/wrong?".
Con might argue:
It's against Nature
It's against "God"
It's not conducive to evolution
Pro might argue:
Homosexuality occurs in nature at about the same rate as it does in human being (cite studies to support)
Homosexuality is not a factor in evolution as the number of individuals who are homosexual are not enough to effect the population as a whole (cite studies)
Homosexuality is only against "God" if you believe in that particular iteration of a particular "God" (counter point)
One argument is clearly supported by better evidence than the other and thus the argument for Pro is stronger.
In logic we look at 2 aspects of any argument as well; we look at validity and Soundness.
An argument form is valid if and only if whenever the premises are all true, then conclusion is true. An argument is valid if its argument form is valid. For a sound argument, An argument is sound if and only if it is valid and all its premises are true.
So let's look at the previous Con argument
If Homosexuality is a human construct then it is against nature. (this is a valid argument as the conclusion follows the premise).
Now for soundness: there is plenty of evidence that homosexuality does occur in nature at a similar rate as in humans; therefore the initial premise (homosexuality is a human construct) is false and the conclusion is therefore false; so the argument is valid but not sound. The same goes for any of the other "Con" arguments that I posted. All are valid, but none are sound.
Essentially you have to break down every argument into premise and conclusion then evaluate whether the conclusion necessarily follows the premise and then evaluate the truthfulness of all premises. Some arguments have multiple premises, so each premise needs to be evaluated separately.
In the second case you said, why can't all points of view be valid?
please explain both lunar and solar eclipses simultaneously in any flat earth model.
Or even if the world is flat, the guise is so well constructed that it doesn't even matter.
some views are factually incorrect, like flat earth. they are not equally valid.
other views are subjective, controversial, or unknown, it which case many views can be valid, but not all.
Tldr I agree you're correct in some cases, but not in all cases
If there is no ground truth, what is reality? I'd argue there are forces independent of any subject that keep reality functioning. These forces are the objective reality, they are the ground truth. So not all views are valid because some run counter to the ground truth that is independent of all subjects
"Because I sent this message I must be an orange in Africa" is invalid. I'm not an orange and typing a message will never indicate that I am. Can I prove that believing message senders = oranges is invalid? Who knows. But I know setting that as a heuristic would take you further from the ground truth because I am not an orange.
Views are only perfectly valid and equal, even if opposing, when they're contingent on a subjective experience. What foods taste good? What music sounds good? What clothes are good? How much is too much chilli? How much money is needed to be happy? Is marriage good? The subject gives context to the answers of these questions with their own opinions and values. Is marriage good therefore is a question that has hidden context added depending on who you ask.
Where we may disagree is I extend this to morality or "normative ethical statements". Moral claims make no sense without also being contingent on subjective experience and a value hierarchy. The idea that "something is wrong" makes no sense if there's no context. If life is all you value, then humans and cockroaches are equal.
"I should have an abortion if it gives me the freedom to have a better life for a future child". If freedom and quality of life are important values to the person holding this belief then I'd argue that's a valid a normative ethical statement. "I should not have an abortion because it destroys a human life" is equally valid if someone believes human life has inherent value.
If someone holds both values in high regard it's just whichever they values more, freedom & quality of life vs inherent value in human life. The side they choose may even change over time. In aggregate, society has the same effect.
Killing foetuses, slaves, honosexuals, disabled people, girls and even owning slaves have all been moral in history because society's agreed value hierarchy said so. It'd always changing, and in 50 years time things that are moral now will be immoral then. Our morality is just as valid as theirs.
When I said that there is no absolute truth, I meant that no point of view is right or wrong, all are equally valid.
How do we differentiate the truth from our misconceptions and prejudices?
Why not all points of view are equally valid?
What do you mean by absolute truth? Is that different from truth? How?
To say that it is subjective is to say that it is not objective , it is impossible to make it objective. If all of arguments are subjective, then there would be no truth can be discover by ourselves, it is impossible for us to know the truth. And reason are not our one of the reliable methods that we can use as a human to know the truth because, if it is the case, we can't verify the truth of a claim by using oue faculty to reason.
But in our usual experience, we are usually encountered some basic truths though its just part of the whole truth.
Therefore, claiming that arguments are exclusively subjective is fallacious.
Though our minds are usually colored by our misconceptions, and prejudices, we are still capable to know the truth by using reason, especially if you're sharpen it.
i don't disagree with every part of your statement, but seeing as it's a giant "and" statement it only takes one part to disagree with the whole things.
arguments are subjective and logic can be meaningless depending on varying knowledge.
but there is a truth for most things, and not all points of view are equally valid. their right to speak them may be equally valid (or equally invalid), but their view is not equally valid in all cases.
all arguments are subjective, those that seem logical to some are meaningless to others, so there is no absolute truth and all points of view have equal validity