February 21, 2022

A New Framework for Thinking About Truth and Reality by Spencer Greenberg

The 7 Realms of Truth

Source: https://www.clearerthinking.org/single-post/2019/09/25/A-new-framework-for-thinking-about-truth-and-reality

  1. Some things exist” in the sense that they are in physical reality, like atoms (in Matter Space”).
  2. Other things may exist” in the sense that they are real experiences conscious beings have, like the taste of pineapple (in Experience Space”).
  3. Still, other things may exist” in the sense that they are shared constructs across multiple minds, like the value of money (in Consensus Space”).
  4. Other things may exist” in the sense of being conclusions derived from frameworks or from sets of premises, like the predictions or implications of economic theories (in Theory Space”).
  5. Some may exist” in the sense that they are represented in systems that store or process information, such as information in a database (in Representation Space”).
  6. If absolute truths exist” that would be just as true if the physical laws of the universe changed, or if all matter was rearranged (e.g. some people would put moral rules like murder is wrong” in this category), then we can talk about these absolute truths existing (in Absolutes Space”).
  7. Finally, if supernatural entities exist”, such as spirits (meaning that not all beings inhabit Matter Space), then these beings are in a different realm than us (in Supernatural Space”).

When a philosophical claim is made (e.g. “the death penalty is immoral”), we can ask ourselves: in which sense this claim is being made - that is, what space” of the 7 above does this claim fit into?

As a way of better understanding each of these spaces, we can use the example of atoms:

  • It is true that atoms exist in physical reality (Matter Space).
  • It is true that I have internal experiences in my mind that are caused by the existence of atoms (Experience Space).
  • It’s true in the English language that atoms” are sometimes defined as constituents of matter (Consensus Space).
  • It’s true that the existence of atoms is a consequence of the standard model of physics (Theory Space).
  • It’s true that Wikipedia contains information about atoms (Representation Space).
  • Many people think it’s true that moral claims are about what ought to occur in the world, as opposed to claims about how atoms are arranged (Absolutes Space).
  • If supernatural entities exist, it’s probably true that they are not merely made of atoms the way, say, chairs are (Supernatural Space).