Monday, August 29, 2011

some of my students' answers.

Their fourth notecard question was:

“Do you think a statement can be true even if no human being knows it?”

Their answers (my comments in the brackets):


“No.” [!]

“There is no correlation between truth and what we know, so yes.” [!]

“Of course: suppose nobody found out the world was sphere; it would still be true.”

[philosophy major]

“Yes because no” [?]

“Yes. There are truths that have not yet been developed enough to become knowledge.”

[I hate those underdeveloped truths!]


“No, because for a statement to be true it should be well proven and widely accepted.”

[! ! !— absurd but interesting. What’s cool about this one is that for it to be true, it would itself have to be well proven and widely accepted, and assuming that the widespread disagreement (confusion) sampled above on this very question is not endemic to my two classes, this statement’s being true would imply that the statement is neither true nor false [or maybe just false?]. But that’s already assuming that the statement is well proven and widely accepted, which it wouldn’t be if it weren’t already well proven and widely accepted. In a word: nothing could be true unless this statement was proven and widely accepted first, but how could that condition be true in the first place if this statement isn’t already proven and widely accepted?]

“The statement may be true by chance, so yes.”

[Those lucky statements!]

“No, truth is a concept completely created by humans.”

[So true!] [?]


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