On truth, and the difference between knowledge and belief

Considering the concept “truth”, ie, what it can and can’t be, philosophers agree on that it can only concern statements. Only statements can be true, and they are true only iff (if and only if) they agree with facts.

Considering the difference between the concepts “knowledge” and “belief”, philosophers agree on that knowledge is a statement that can be empirically tested but can’t be falsified, whereas belief is a statement that can’t be empirically tested. The fundamental difference between them is thus whether they can be empirically tested or not, whereas “knowledge” also have to pass empirical testing. The statements that can be empirically tested and are falsified are called lies (or myths, or something else).

Belief can thus never become knowledge, because it can’t be empirically tested, just as knowledge can never become belief because it can be empirically tested. The statements that can be empirically tested but are falsified do, however, fall into belief because they can’t be knowledge. Belief is thus like a trash can collecting everything that don’t qualify as knowledge.

The problem with these philosophical conclusions (ie, philosophical facts) for historical sciences, like phylogenetics, is that they exclude that historical sciences can produce knowledge. This problem is, understandably, a red rag for historians, but does just demonstrate that historical sciences are fundamentally subjective. This fact may be a red rag for historians, but is none the less a fact. Knowledge is not about how we want things to be, but about how things are, and in this distinction, how things were unfortunately falls into the same bin as how we want things to be, that is, subjectivity.

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