Truth in Business

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… from the desk of the CEO
David Fisher

Knowing the truth is an age old concern, predominantly philosophized through history by religious scholars and philosophers, seeking its roots and ways to convey its meaning.

Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or standard. Truth may also often be used in modern contexts to refer to an idea of “truth to self,” or authenticity.

Truth is usually held to be opposite to falsehood, which, correspondingly, can also take on a logical, factual, or ethical meaning. The concept of truth is discussed and debated in several contexts, including philosophy, art, and religion. Many human activities depend upon the concept, where its nature as a concept is assumed rather than being a subject of discussion; these include most of the sciences, law, journalism, and everyday life. Some philosophers view the concept of truth as basic, and unable to be explained in any terms that are more easily understood than the concept of truth itself. Commonly, truth is viewed as the correspondence of language or thought to an independent reality, in what is sometimes called the correspondence theory of truth.

Other philosophers take this common meaning to be secondary and derivative. According to Martin Heidegger, the original meaning and essence of truth in Ancient Greece was unconcealment, or the revealing or bringing of what was previously hidden into the open, as indicated by the original Greek term for truth, aletheia. On this view, the conception of truth as correctness is a later derivation from the concept’s original essence, a development Heidegger traces to the Latin term veritas.

Pragmatists like C. S. Peirce take truth to have some manner of essential relation to human practices for inquiring into and discovering truth, with Peirce himself holding that truth is what human inquiry would find out on a matter, if our practice of inquiry were taken as far as it could profitably go: the opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate, is what we mean by the truth.

Various theories and views of truth continue to be debated among scholars, philosophers, and theologians. Language and words are a means by which humans convey information to one another and the method used to determine what is a truth is termed a criterion of truth. There are differing claims on such questions as what constitutes truth: what things are truth bearers capable of being true or false; how to define, identify, and distinguish truth; the roles that faith-based and empirically based knowledge play; and whether truth is subjective or objective, relative or absolute.

Friedrich Nietzsche famously suggested that an ancient, metaphysical belief in the divinity of truth lies at the heart of and has served as the foundation for the entire subsequent Western intellectual tradition,

In business matters one proven way of determining truth is by asking a question of which you already know the answer. If the response is incorrect you know what you’re dealing with. 

Logic is concerned with the patterns in reason that can help tell us if a proposition is true or not. However, logic does not deal with truth in the absolute sense, as for instance a metaphysician does. Logicians use formal languages to express the truths which they are concerned with, and as such there is only truth under some interpretation or truth within some logical system.

A logical truth (also called an analytic truth or a necessary truth) is a statement which is true in all possible worlds or under all possible interpretations, as contrasted to a fact (also called a synthetic claim or a contingency) which is only true in this world as it has historically unfolded.

Friedrich Nietzsche believed the search for truth, or the will to truth, was a consequence of the will to power of philosophers. He thought that truth should be used as long as it promoted life and the will to power, and he thought untruth was better than truth if it had this life enhancement as a consequence. As he wrote in Beyond Good and Evil, the falseness of a judgment is to us not necessarily an objection to a judgment. The question is to what extent it is life-advancing, life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps even species-breeding. He proposed the will to power as a truth only because, according to him, it was the most life-affirming and sincere perspective one could have.

Truthmaker Theory

Truthmaker theory is the branch of metaphysics that explores the relationships between what is true and what exists. Discussions of truthmakers and truthmaking typically start with the idea that truth depends on being, and not vice versa. For example, if the sentence Kangaroos live in Australia is true, then there are kangaroos living in Australia. And if there are kangaroos living in Australia, then the sentence Kangaroos live in Australia is true. But we can ask whether the sentence is true because of the way the world is, or whether the world is the way it is because the sentence is true.

Truthmaker theorists make the former claim that the sentence is true because of what exists in the world; it is not the case that the world is the way it is because of which sentences are true. Truthmaker theorists use this fundamental idea as a starting point for clarifying the nature of truth and its relationship to ontology, and to advance various views in metaphysics concerning the nature of the past and future, counterfactual conditionals, modality, and many others.

Because truthmaker theorists end up with differing views concerning all these matters, what ultimately unites them is not any single thesis but rather a commitment to thinking that the idea of truthmaking is a useful one for pursuing metaphysical inquiry. Others might conceive of ‘truthmaker theory’ more strictly (such as by requiring a commitment to all truths having truthmakers, or all truthmakers being of a particular ontological variety), though defining the enterprise in this way will inevitably fail to capture all those earnestly pursuing investigation into truthmaking.

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