CONTENTS 095 EVALUATION NEXT
EVALUATION: a truth-label decision statement


An evaluation is a statement about the truth or falsity of another statement. It is a statement about a statement. It is a statement by an authority of self interest, about which truth label it has decided to allocate to the particular existential statement being examined. When a test pilot delivers the judgement... this machine is dangerous... it is a statement about circumstances encountered in the real world. It is a statement about an existential state of affairs. If a consultant for the aviation authority concurs by saying... that statement by the test pilot was true... then such a statement is an evaluation. It is a statement about the property of a linguistic utterance. It is not about the machine directly but about the merits of a statement about the machine. In a similar manner, the designers of the aircraft would most likely issue an immediate riposte evaluation... that statement is quite false...

Evaluations are thus special types of statements. They are statements about that very specific aspect of existence called language. Failure to identify evaluations as special types of statements has been the cause of many seemingly insoluble linguistic dilemmas. Thus the statement... this statement is false... was supposed to refer to itself. It was supposed somehow that if it was true then its claim that it was false created a logical impossibility. But a statement and its truth evaluation can never be one and the same statement any more than a person and his or her offspring are the same. Just as parents and their children are both members of the same species but the child cannot be the parent of itself, so statements and evaluations are both members of the set of sentences but an evaluation cannot be about itself. An evaluation is a statement which depends entirely on the existence of a previous statement. It cannot refer to itself because it has not existed before itself. If a statement is made and we are concerned as to its veracity, then we communicate the result of our deliberations in a separate evaluation statement.

Being a statement, an evaluation itself can be true or false... but to determine the truth or falsity of an evaluation one must first determine the truth or falsity of the statement which the evaluation is about. There is no prohibition to the construction of an endless sequences of evaluations of evaluations, but the reality is that little or no analytical benefit is ever likely to accrue from such an exercise. Past the stage of a core statement, a few evaluations by those interested, and perhaps a few confirmations or denials of those evaluations, the exchange would rapidly degenerate into absurdity. Having said that however, typical international political statements will demonstrate this phenomena quite frequently.



CONTENTS 095 EVALUATION NEXT