User:LGreg/sandbox/Approaches to Knowledge (LG seminar)/Group 1/Truth/Ebani Joy and Jorge

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Truth in Law and Astrophysics[edit | edit source]

Truth in Law:[edit | edit source]

Etymology:[edit | edit source]

The word “law” comes from the old English “lagu”, meaning ordinance, rule. Ironically, This has connotations of objectivity, but in reality, the law is vastly subjective. It is typically based on what people assume to be "correct" or "ethical" (for example, the statement "stealing is bad" is a relative truth and can be debated). Etymologically, words related to law are linked to what is right (for instance, the French word for law is “droit”, which also means righteousness). Thus, it appears that ‘truth’ and the “right knowledge” is what law strives for. [1]

Law[edit | edit source]

Lawyers will often twist the truth in order to win their case, and convince others to obtain the majority vote from the jury. The concept of having a jury works with the axiom that truth is consensus. Thus, truth is subjective, especially when it depends on forms of evidence, such as testimonies, which are inherently subjective due to personal biases.

In judicial cases, the truth can often lose its meaning as the accused “fight for their innocence”. The goal in trials is no longer to uncover the truth, but to convince others of their own version of the truth, which might be biased or even outright false. Constructivism plays a great role here, as society accepts the truth of whoever wins the case, making the truth a construct accepted by all others rather than a concept that can be tested and verified.[2]

However, developments in DNA technology and its integration in the criminal justice system have led to the release of many falsely accused criminals. In October 2018, Horace Roberts was exonerated after spending around twenty years in prison due to new DNA evidence. This highlights the subjective and constructivist nature of truth in the law; science (often thought to be a more objective field) is required to intervene to uncover the ‘absolute truth’ of the case. [3]

Truth in Astrophysics:[edit | edit source]

Etymology:[edit | edit source]

Physics comes from the Greek “ta physika”, which literally translates to ‘the natural things’. This shows that this field aims to reach the objective truth, which is observed in the natural world[4].

Astrophysics[edit | edit source]

In astrophysics, as in the case with most sciences, a substantial amount of evidence is required before a theory can be considered truth or fact. This is a combination of a result of the heavy amount of criticism regarding false information in the sciences and the implications and consequences of false information in this discipline. If information is falsely stated in a science-based discipline such as astrophysics, there can be a prominent snowball effect which would lead to further scientists using what they think is a truth to come to false conclusions.

An example of such a case would be that of the geocentric model of the universe which was only proved incorrect in 1543. This misinterpretation of the solar system led to a halt in astrophysical advancement and an attack on other scientists hypotheses such as the famous incident of Galileo and how the famous Italian astronomer was placed in solitary confinement for going against the geocentric model of the solar system[5][6] . Therefore, having this in mind, one can say that the truth in astrophysics is both empirical and positivist as for any theory to become a truth, it needs relentless experimenting and objective evidence that the conclusion that the scientist reached was the correct one.

The search for ultimate truth[edit | edit source]

Nowadays, scientists are attempting to uncover the “ultimate equation”, the “theory of everything”. This theory would combine, relate and explain all observable phenomena, ranging from cosmology to quantum physics. Therefore, in contrast to law, one could argue that astrophysicists have an aim to uncover the absolute truth in the physical world which would be irrefutable, placing emphasis on the objective nature of truth and knowledge in this field.[7]

Conclusion / Evaluation[edit | edit source]

In both disciplines, truth has heavy implications. In law, the truth moulds the future of the convicted while in astrophysics, it leads to the misinterpretation of the universe we live in. With the introduction of DNA testing in the judiciary system, law has begun to take a more pluralistic approach towards the truth. However, astrophysics continues to align itself with the positivist approach of the truth.

Suggested further reading[edit | edit source][8][9][10]