In game theory, especially Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Thinking (LAGT) “truth” can be defined as “constancy or sincerity in action or character.”
One’s life experience will be filled with human emotions, distinct cultural realities, political ideologies, religious beliefs, illogical realities that we are genetically hard-wired to express and all forms of non-linear events. In these situations clear distinctions of type and category often cannot be formed so that scientific “truths” cannot be defined and certain types of questions must be left unresolved.
If one were a “seeker of truth” beyond the cliché of that phrase one would need to have a passion for truth. It can be a rocky road with sharp twists and turns and innumerable diversions to pull you in other directions. So the real question is, “What is the most effective basis for deciding how words, symbols, ideas and beliefs may properly be considered true?”
The next step is to decide whether you are seeking a personal truth or a truth that will apply to an entire society. Besides, defining a universal truth is akin to creating a Theory of Everything (what Einstein called the “Unified Field Theory”). There are many who believe that there is no one truth but rather different concepts of truth that are applicable to unique systems.
I’m sure everyone who thinks about it has their own definition of truth, in spite of what they have memorized over the years, as they have been told to do my religious leaders.
Recently we held a conference on stress management at the Catskills Bed and Breakfast – http://www.TheCatskillsBedandBreakfast.com -. We had speakers, training sessions and offered corporate on-site chair massage during the breaks. During the conference the question of “What is “Truth” kept arising.
If one explores the concept of “truth” among academics, philosophers, theologians, scientists and social scientists there are five major substantive theories of truth, many of which share some ideas in common. These five have been chosen because they are and have historically been discussed by many published scholars. They are:
(a). Correspondence theory
(b). Coherence theory
(d). Consensus theory
(e). Pragmatic theory
The strength of any of these versus the others is based in part on what one considers important in the search for truth. There might, for example, be issues necessary to the analysis of a particular truth. These issues might include interpersonal power struggles, community interactions, personal biases and other factors involved in deciding what is seen as truth.
I offer an explanation for each of the five theories here without either supporting or criticizing it:
(a). Correspondence theory of truth: This theory states that true beliefs and true statements correspond to the actual state of affairs. In other words the truth or the falsity of a statement is determined in principle solely by how it relates to “things”, and by whether it accurately describes those “things”.
Correspondence theory practically operates on the assumption that truth is a matter of accurately copying what was much later called “objective reality” and then representing it in thoughts, words and other symbols.
(b). Coherence theory: One might call Coherence theory a logically based, holistic approach to the exploration of truth. That is because for coherence theories in general, truth requires logical consistency expressed as an effective and efficient integration of elements within a whole system. A core element to this theory is that truth is primarily a property of whole systems of propositions, thus any one proposition or group of propositions can only be true according to their coherence with the whole. This is not a particularly dogmatic approach to truth since many of those who accept coherence theory differ on the question of whether coherence entails many possible true systems of thought or only a single absolute system. This difference of opinion on what and where coherence theories of truth can be applied must address issues concerning the natural world, empirical data in general, and assertions about practical matters of psychology and society. Does coherence theory have a place in creating ethical, efficient and effective game based strategies? Yes, but most likely only when applied with support from the other major theories of truth.
This approach is popular among those who wish to view the world logically. For them truth cannot be defined from some metaphysical, subjective or some intuitive perspective if it cannot be verified by observation. In a serious inquiry into truth one would need to analyze a statement by the tools of logic into elementary propositions that are either true in every possible interpretation, tautological or verifiable by observation. This approach would necessitate the rejection of metaphysics, theology, and sometimes ethics as meaningless when defining truth. Some of the great thinkers in this exploration of truth that you might wish to explore further are Spinoza, Leibniz, G.W.F. Hegel, F.H. Bradley, Otto Neurath, and Carl Hempel.
(c). Constructivist theory: Also known as social constructivism this school of thought holds that truth is constructed by social processes, is historically and culturally specific, and is in part shaped through the competition, hierarchal patterns and struggles for power and influence within a community. Constructivism views all of our knowledge as “constructed,” because it does not reflect any external “transcendent” realities (as a pure correspondence theory might hold). Rather, perceptions of truth are viewed as contingent on convention, human perception, and social experience. It is believed by constructivists that representations of physical and biological reality, including race, sexuality, and gender are socially constructed. Giambattista Vico was among the first to claim that history and culture were man-made. Vico’s epistemological orientation gathers the most diverse rays and unfolds in one axiom – verum ipsum factum – “truth itself is constructed”. Hegel and Marx were among the other early proponents of the premise that truth is, or can be, socially constructed. Marx, like many critical theorists who followed, did not reject the existence of objective truth but rather distinguished between true knowledge and knowledge that has been distorted through power or ideology. For Marx scientific and true knowledge is ‘in accordance with the dialectical understanding of history’ and ideological knowledge ‘an epiphenomenal expression of the relation of material forces in a given economic arrangement’.
(d). Consensus theory: This theory of truth is the one that applies to most Games. Consensus theory holds that truth is whatever is agreed upon, or in some group relationships, might come to be agreed upon. Such a group might include all human beings, or a subset thereof consisting of more than one person. In LHAGT various players would interact in just this way.
Among the current advocates of consensus theory as a useful accounting of the concept of “truth” is the influential philosopher Jürgen Habermas. Habermas maintains that truth is what would be agreed upon in an ideal speech situation – specialized language in LHAGT. (See the Conversation on Specialized Language in LHAGT Course. And research ideal speech to put in specialized language.)
e. Pragmatic theory: Pragmatic theory is actually an umbrella term for many different viewpoints on truth, all of which reflect one definite principle – that truth is verified and confirmed by the results of putting one’s concepts into practice. There are three primary viewpoints that one might take in pragmatic theory but I am not going to break them down here. If you wish to explore the three primary expressions of pragmatic theory, I suggest, you research the ideas on truth espoused by Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. In recent years the philosopher William Ernest Hocking integrated many of the ideas of Peirce, James, and Dewey to create a variation known as “Negative Pragmatism”. The theme of Negative Pragmatism is that what works may or may not be true, but what fails cannot be true because the truth always works. The physicist Richard Feynman also ascribed to it: “We never are definitely right, we can only be sure we are wrong.” Feynman further stated, “One … could never be proved right, because tomorrow’s experiment might succeed in proving wrong what you thought was right.” Pragmatism and negative pragmatism are also closely aligned with the previously described coherence theory of truth in that any testing should not be isolated but rather incorporate knowledge from all human endeavors and experiences. The universe is a whole and integrated system, and testing should recognize and account for its diversity. As Feynman said, “… if it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong.”
Other ideas on truth include Russell’s Paradox
Kripke’s Theory of Truth
Gödel’s First Incompleteness Theorem
The Liars’ Paradox
You may also wish to read my book “Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times”
Lewis Harrison is a motivational speaker specializing in game based thinking and applied game theory. He is a seminar leader, futurist, entrepreneur, NPR affiliated radio talk show (WIOXRadio.org) host, success and life coach and a best-selling author.
He is the creator of a web site – http://www.askLewis.com. that focuses on the application of gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness, and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. He is the creator of a free course on personal growth and human potential.
Here is a short interview with Lewis;
Lewis also owns a company that offers stress management programs throughout the United States. Part of this company is his corporate chair massage company, eventschairmassage.com provides seated and chair massage for stress management seminars and trainings as well to special events for meeting planners and meeting professionals in New York City, New Jersey Las Veges, Dallas, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Greensboro NC, Florida and other major meeting and conventions venues.