Objective Reality by T L Hurst - Revised 23rd November 2011X
This paper suggests that the best evidence that reality exists outside our perception of it, is that it contains objects that are intentionally designed. These either exist in themselves, or they indicate the existence of an objective entity that makes them appear to exist. So, in either case, an objective reality exists.
"Exist" and "Entity" are synonyms that refer to any objective or subjective entity.
- "Real" and "Objective" are synonyms that refer to any entity that exists whether we are cognizant of it or not.
- "Physical" means a real entity that is part of the physical universe.
- "Abstract" means an entity that is not part of the physical universe.
- "Subjective" means an abstract entity that only exists within our cognizance of it.
Note: I have not defined that there is anything that exists objectively. At this point I'm only defining terms.
- The term "valid" or "logical" means that a conclusion follows from the premises it is based on. It is a purely technical term. It does NOT require or imply that the conclusion corresponds to reality.
- The term "sound" means that a process of logic is valid, and the premises are true. It does NOT require or imply that we know that the premises are true.
- The term "justified" means that the process of logic is valid, and:
- Does not contradict any known facts.
- Has sufficient evidence to support it.
What reasons are there to suggest that an objective reality does, or does not, exist outside our cognizance?
Metaphysical propositions cannot be proven to be true. Hence, it is not possible to prove that anything exists objectively, but, that is not proof that objective reality does not exist. So if we reject the idea of an objective reality simply because of a lack of proof, we should reject the whole of metaphysics, including the idea that there is no objective reality. However it does not follow that all metaphysical propositions are equally likely to be true.
Furthermore, we can discount the "brain in a vat" scenario as an issue because it allows that a "powerful entity" objectively exists. So reality cannot be purely subjective, albeit that it may not exist in the form that we experience it.
The best evidence for the existence of objective reality may be technology. The reason is that there are many items that are intentionally designed. Like aircraft, ships, bridges, computers, tv's etc... But they were not designed by me. So someone else must exist, who designed them.
- Against that it could be argued that part of me is creating an illusion of technology existing that was not deigned by me. However, this is easily dispensed with as it is just a variation on the "brain in a vat" scenario. If there is a "me" who is creating the illusion, then to the "me" who is experiencing it, an objective reality exists.
I conclude, with some justification (though not proof), that objective reality exists, because it contains objects that I know are intentionally designed, that were not designed by me. Furthermore, these either exist in themselves, or they indicate the existence of an objective entity that makes them appear to exist. So, in either case, an objective reality exists.
Some people may feel that this conclusion is unsatisfactory, as it does not definitively assert that the universe objectively exists in the form that we experience it. However, that assertion assumes that everyone's perception of the universe is in accord with everyone else's. That is far from certain, and ignores the subjective nature of our perceptions. At best, we may be able to assert that the universe objectively exists in a form that correlates to our perceptions of it.
So it comes down to the justification of the propositions. In that respect, there is a wealth of consistent empirical evidence that the universe exists in a form that correlates to our experiences of it. There is no evidence to the contrary. Therefore it seems more reasonable to assume that the universe objectively exists, and correlates to our experiences of it.
(c) copyright T L Hurst 2022.