The Two Types of Truth

Americans fail to notice a pair of tectonic plates deeply buried beneath our conflicts. And our inability to acknowledge their crucial impact has created unseen distortions within collective discourse ……

Example Conflict One: A person who believes strongly in “the right to life” finds himself – or herself – in political opposition to someone who believes in “the right to choose.” This is one form of conflict. It focuses on values.

Example Conflict Two: The Federal Reserve pursues centralized management of the nation’s economy through its control of a fiat currency (the dollar). But its opponents believe “the market” should determine the form and value of money (through decentralized entities like precious metals and cryptocurrencies).

These examples represent two types of conflict. Each differs in its fundamental structure.

In one dispute – fiat versus gold – opposed parties analyze data and derive differing conclusions based on the logic applied to that information. In the other, abortion is a matter of conscience. Each opposed party “knows” within its heart what is right.

In Conflict Two, the competing proofs finish at different places. In Conflict One, the two parties start at different places …… before either combatant attempts a debate.

Two types of “truth” are at work in these examples. In the data-driven debate, truth is seen as objective; the underlying assumption is that a process of analysis will ultimately determine which side is correct. But the values disagreement can’t be resolved through analysis. It represents a different type of truth: subjective truth.

Clear definitions can be provided for each type of truth ……

In an objective conflict, a given position can eventually be proven true or false.

In a subjective conflict, a given position can never be proven true. Nor can it be proven false.

This distinction is rarely drawn within today’s political debates. Instead, discourse becomes chaotic or nonsensical as each participant labels himself or herself as the objective thinker …… while those who disagree are labeled as immoral or unintelligent.

Ironically, such accusations divide into the types of truth. Someone labeled “unintelligent” is deemed to be deficient in their capacity for analysis – a prime component objective truth. And a person labeled “immoral” is accused of having no conscience – a marker of subjective truth.

Our inability to see this important distinction is a spatial problem in its origins. On a one-dimensional model, partisan language is jumbled onto a single line, where definitions of terms are stretched too far ……

To resolve this confusion, a two-dimensional model must be referenced, where each axis represents a specific type of truth. The vertical orients toward the objective. The horizontal is subjective.

As humans, each of us holds to a complex combination of beliefs. Some of those beliefs are objective. Others are more subjective. Our political positions reflect that complexity. But they can be clarified by answering two fundamental questions ……

The objective question: …… Should power be centralized or decentralized?

The subjective question: …… Should our values be conservative or liberal?

When plotted on the political circle, our weighted answers provide better distinctions between positions ……

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