Adjudicating Between World-views: Part 2 – Tests For Truth

*Note: If you don’t fully understand the written sections then just scroll to the bottom for a diagram of the written content!

RECAP

I’d like to recap the first post in this series before moving on to this second post.

 Remember that we basically took a look at four things:

What is a world-view? We saw that a world-view is just another word for a system of belief. It is the lens from which you view the world. The way you interpret the world is based upon your world-view; thus, it is like the glasses you wear which determine the way you perceive, act, and live.

Why do this? We saw that putting one’s system of belief “on the line” is really like saying, “I am willing to test what I believe because I am primarily concerned about finding the truth – and possibly being wrong – as opposed to wanting to be right in order to avoid embarrassment, discomfort, or lifestyle change.” Truth is what we are trying to seek in this venture.

What do we mean by adjudicating? As mentioned, adjudicate is a legal term used in weighing out possible suspects in a trial, method of murder, etc. Just as in the case with detectives, part of what we will be doing is gathering some evidence and seeing, if possible, if there are any (or even one in particular) world-views which stand out by successfully matching the evidence and criteria we will eventually establish.

How do we define what a world-view looks like? There are many questions which are inherently answered by world-views, and we will not be looking at them all because that would take a really long time! I do feel that there are four categories, or questions, which can give us an overview of what a world-view looks like. It’s perhaps a simple way of defining a world-view, but still effective enough in covering the core essentials of what a world-view posits.

Let’s move on to the topic of today’s discussion!

TESTS FOR TRUTH

There are really two aspects to what we are going to doing. First, we will be looking at what method we can use to determine whether a world-view is even viable on it’s own merits, and secondly we will be looking at comparing some of the basic or general broad world-view categories and come to some conclusions. We’re going to be discussion the first tenant here.

What our tests for truth will be doing are basically testing the answers which each world-view provides to the four questions (Origin, Meaning, Morality, and Destiny). Thus, before even comparing world-views we are going to see if a particular world-view should even be “in the running” in the first place.

Those who have studied this topic will know that there is no set method to use in testing a world-view. Some methods involve many criteria or individual tests. Some use a few. Some don’t even work well at all! I don’t want to use a method that is so complex we loose track of what we are doing in the first place. And I also do not want to use one that is abstract enough that you really need to spend all day thinking about the test itself.


For myself, the simplest and still effective method that I’ve come across is called combinationalism. That’s a big philosophical word.


Combinationalism, as you can see, contains the word “combination”. That’s basically what we are talking about here – a combination of different tests.

Those who have studied the branch of philosophy called epistemology (another big philosophical word) will know

that there are many theories about how people come to a knowledge of truth. There is rationalism, evidentialism, experientialism – and the list goes on. But we don’t need to worry about those.


What combinationalism does is (tries) to take the
effective part of each of these methods and use them all together.

There are many different forms of combinationalism, so let’s look at the tests we will be using – there are three of them:

Logical consistency – Anything that is illogical or contradictory is automatically false.

Empirical adequacy – The world-view must answer the question in such a way which matches evidence we have gathered concerning that area.

Experiential Relevance – How is the answer given by a world-view relevant to me experientially, or practically. How does it change or affect my life?

As you may be able to see, each of the three tests are different in their goals. Each tests acts sort of a gateway. We first go through gate #1. If that one can be opened then we go to gate #2. If that one can be opened then we go to the last gate.

[Now, it should be known (if not discovered already) that these tests will not prove that a world-view is true. At best, it will show which ones are obviously false and which ones are possibly true. So really, they are technically tests for falsehood (But that’s another story – which you may ask me in the comment section if you are interested, and is explained to some extent in the next section below).]

WHY USE THESE THREE TESTS?

The reason why I am using these three tests in particular are for the following reasons: The first two tests, logical consistency and empirical adequacy, reflect the popular scientific and rational mindset which our culture holds. Reason (or logic) is seen as the great tool in our culture, and so is the scientific method. So these two methods simply reflect that paradigm in which the majority of our culture are (claiming to be) walking in.

The third test, experiential relevance, is a bit different, as you may have noticed. On the face of it, it may seem strange to include. Now one may think this test means that our experiences should match those that are implied by a world-view. That’s not what this test means because matching our experiences to what a world-view says we should experience is covered by the second test, empirical adequacy.


I’ll try to succinctly explain what this means: If a world-view is true then it should work. What I mean by that is, it should affect your life and work (pragmatically, in a sense).

 For example, let’s say a world-view answers the question of morality by saying that killing babies is good and helping people is evil. I would hope that you would have experiential, practical, or pragmatic issues with this type of view (among other issues).

Now, we aren’t saying that whatever has to make us change our lifestyles is not worthy of accepting as true; we are simply saying that there are certain things which can be just simply wholly obvious – things like the fact that killing babies is evil, not good. It’s more of an introspective consideration of how this world-view would look in action.

SUMMARY

We took a took at the 3 tests we will be using in order to judge a world-view up front. We will be applying these tests to each of the answers given to the four world-view questions: Origin, Meaning/Purpose, Morality, and Destiny. Whether a world-view passes or
fails the test may give us some strong reasons to reject a world-view before even comparing them.

 Next time we will be taking a look at which world-views are “on the line”!

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