The Promise Of Honesty As Truth


[I]s following the scientific method like honest testimony? An honest statement may be true or not. We may speak truthfully (honestly) but, we may still err. So is a scientist who does not follow the scientific method dishonest? I think so. He does not speak the truth. Because in science we have established the moral rule of the scientific method.

Is a politician or public intellectual arguing for taxation with postmodern language dishonest? I don’t know. It depends upon whether we apply the scientific method as a criteria for honesty, and he avoids it. If so. Yes. We cannot ever know the truth, but one can speak ethically, which is the best that we have.

Is a mathematician advocating a mathematical reality dishonest? I don’t know. It depends if we apply the scientific method as a criteria for honesty, and he avoids it. If so. Yes.

But are each of these people’s statements false if they put forth their arguments dishonestly? Or is honesty in each discipline unrelated to truth and falsehood? Can I make dishonest but true statements? I think so. I certainly can make honest but false statements. Is there any relationship between testimony and truth? I don’t think so.

But since we can never know the objective truth, we must abide by the best criteria at our disposal, yes? Isn’t that what ethics require of us? That is why we have established ethical norms. Because when it is impossible to know, following the norms means we are blameless if we err.

But can I know if I speak the truth?

Well, I’m kind of after the inverse concern. Popper is terribly concerned about error and overly optimistic claims. I’m terribly concerned about self deception, and the deception of others.

If we can’t know the truth, then what constitutes moral speech?

It is one thing to fall victim to bias, another to fall victim to error, another to avoid operational language in order to justify to one’s self or others that which one does not truly understand, and yet another to engage in obfuscation for the purpose of self, or other, deception.

I think that if I, as a speaker, reduce my statements to operational language, and that I can construct any abstraction I refer to in operational language, that I can attest to the truth of my statements in the original sense of the term: honesty. Conversely if I cannot so so, then I cannot make that claim.

I think that if I follow the rules of the scientific method that this is the same as speaking honestly with the promise of having followed that method.

This is honesty. I am speaking the truth or am I speaking honestly? Because the original meaning of ‘truth’ is ‘speaking honestly’ about events.

I think that if I follow rules of operations in the logics this is the same as speaking honestly and with the promise of not committing an error. Since the logics are imperfect, the rules are a contract for communication. If I follow those rules then I have acted honestly.

I think that if I observe that the snow is white, that if I state to you that the snow is white, it is a promise to you that the snow is white.

This is I think, a description of truth in ethics. I think all other versions of the word ‘truth’ are analogies to these statements.

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