Tests for truth
2. Relativism vs. Pluralism
2.4. tests for truth
2.4. tests for truth
There are 3 main classic tests to which any system or statement that makes a claim to truth should be subjected as a preliminary requirement. These are:
1. logical consistency (rational thinking) -is what is being claimed logically consistent or are there obvious contradictions?
2. empirical adequacy -is there any evidence to support what is being claimed?
3. experiential relevance – does it work in real life?
To the above, epistemologists generally agree that 2 additional tests should be added to complete the truthfulness investigation: the test of undeniability and the test of unaffirmability:
4. Undeniability- test for truth
5. Unaffirmability –test for falsehood
The first 3 tests deal within a worldview system. The final 2 deal with a system outside of itself.
Undeniability. To understand undeniability consider the notion of one’s existence. While one’s existence cannot be logically proven it is nevertheless undeniable from an existential point of view. That means one cannot deny his/her existence without affirming it at the same time. The classic example for this is the student addressing his professor “how do I know I exist?” and the professor’s reply: “Whom shall I say is asking?”. Undeniability therefore is clearly a test for truth.
Unaffirmability is a test for falsehood. This basically means that just because something can be stated, it does not necessarily follow that the statement is true. “I cannot speak a word of English” may be passionately stated but it cannot be affirmed at the same time for while saying it, one is actually speaking several words of English. Therefore the statement is false.
If the law of non-contradiction clearly applies to reality (as well as in courtrooms all over the globe) and a certain worldview is plagued by contradictions then that worldview as a system is false.
The truthfulness of the belief system one embraces -monotheistic, atheistic, pantheistic – is of crucial importance for one’s destiny and actions.
Each human being has a personal responsibility to investigate whether his/her answers to the 4 basic questions of life about: origin, meaning, morality and destiny, within the context of his/her worldview, meet the 5-tests of truth: logical consistency, empirical adequacy, experiential relevance, undeniability and unaffirmability.
The truths claims of any worldview/belief system -being it Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Atheism, New Age etc – must stand these 5 tests.
See continuation at ‘why truth is so “difficult”’