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October 2017

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Dr Who

Why Do People Dissagree?

I believe that there are only three bases for disagreement:
1. Facts
2. Semantics
3. Beliefs

Disagreements about facts can be about things like: who won the World Series in 1987, or what is the address of the restaurant we are meeting at. You can tell if a disagreement is about facts if reference to a reliable source resolves the dispute. If there isn't an agreement on what is a reliable source for verification then the disagreement isn't really about the facts.

Semantic disagreements are when people are using the same word to mean different things. This can be very tricky because there really isn't any authority who decides what words mean. You can't force people to use the same definition you do, unless you do use force. Legal definitions for instance are enforced by the courts. But outside the courts people can use different definitions for the same words. Starbucks coffee shops enforce the use of a specialized jargon in their stores, but they can't force people to use it outside their stores. Jargon is the specialized vocabulary and definitions used by a particular group. Slang is another form of jargon. Definition are useful because they describe the contents of the category the word is signifying. But no definition is "true" or "false". Dictionaries are not prescriptive, they don't limit the use of words, they are descriptive, they record popular word usage. If a disagreement seem to be based on a particular word it can probably be resolved by each party explaining their definition of the word. Once you understand what the word means to the other person most semantic disagreements can be resolved. Unless the disagreement is about what the word should mean.

Disagreements about belief happen when people have ontological theories and core values that conflict. Disagreements about belief can not be resolved. People disagree over issues of belief can not agree about what facts are relevant or what sources are reliable. One of the ways you tell that a disagreement is about beliefs is that people will accuse those who disagree with them of being: stupid, lying, or crazy.

Truth is not objective. Truth is an idea about information. Because it is an idea it is subjective not objective. People believe that something is true if it is consistent with their experiences and beliefs. Individual pieces of information are considered true or false based on their consistency with previous experiences and beliefs. New experiences and new beliefs are the only way to change a persons evaluation of the truth or falsehood of a piece of information.

Comments

Well said, and i don't disagree. I do think that testable methodology, aka scientific method, does allow for some objective truth when it comes to testable areas of knowledge/belief.
Thinking like that is a problem.

It is a mistake to think that because the scientific method is able to get repeatable results under controlled conditions that makes it the same as truth. I'll grant you that scientific results are objective experiences. Because that is practically the definition of science. But there is no such thing as objective truth.

The thing about the scientific method is that it is very limited and conditional. Truth is always subjective because it is by nature an idea about information, not information itself.

That is why scientist keep changing their minds about conclusions. The objective observations don't change but the ideas about what the observations mean do change with new observations. Which is exactly how all human beliefs form.
Ah, thank you. I'm overtired and missed that subtlety. Best to sleep now, i suppose. :)
Thank you for taking the time to read my post and share your concerns. I appreciate both your time and interest.
Sure. I'm flattered.