Lecture Notes.

Module Four: Session Five

Basics of Truth

Absolute or Relative Claims

  • Absolute claims are invariant always and forever. In other words, if the truth of the claim can (practically speaking) never change with circumstances of time or place, then it is considered absolute.
  • Example: "Milwaukee is in Wisconsin." We've already determined that this claim is objective. (By the way, it's also descriptive.) It is also absolute, because cities don't change location. They pretty much stay put. So the claim "Milwaukee is in Wisconsin " was true 100 years ago, it was true one week ago, it is true today, and it will be true 100 years from today.
  • Example: "Slavery is wrong." Most Americans now agree that this claim is true, though slavery is still practiced in such places as China and the Sudan. It is wrong because it unfairly treats humans as property. It was just as wrong when it was practiced in the United States and it is wrong for the Chinese and the Sudanese to practice it too. The reason is that people are always the same regardless of where they live or when they live.
  • Relative claims are claims where the truth can change with circumstances of time and place. In other words, a claim that is true now, might be false later on.
  • Example: "Joe is in Milwaukee Wisconsin." People don't stay in one place like cities do. Joe might get on a plane and fly to San Francisco, in which the words "Joe is in Milwaukee Wisconsin" would become false.
  • Example: "It is autumn." Utter these words every four months. One of those times the claim will be true, the other three, it will be false.

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