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True to Life

Michael P. Lynch (The MIT Press: August 2005), 216 pages.

Why does truth matter, when politicians so easily sidestep it and intellectuals scorn it as irrelevant? Why be concerned over an abstract idea like truth when something that isn’t true — for example, a report of Iraq’s attempting to buy materials for nuclear weapons—gets the desired result — the invasion of Iraq? In this engaging and spirited book, Michael Lynch argues that truth does matter, in both our personal and political lives. Lynch explains that the growing cynicism over truth stems in large part from our confusion over what truth is. “We need to think our way past our confusion and shed our cynicism about the value of truth,” he writes. “Otherwise, we will be unable to act with integrity, to live authentically, and to speak truth to power.” True to Life defends four simple claims: that truth is objective; that it is good to believe what is true; that truth is a goal worthy of inquiry; and that truth can be worth caring about for its own sake—not just because it gets us other things we want. In defense of these “truisms about truth,” Lynch diagnoses the sources of our cynicism and argues that many contemporary theories of truth cannot adequately account for its value. He explains why we should care about truth, arguing that truth and its pursuit are part of living a happy life, important in our personal relationships and for our political values. ~ Product Description (Gold Award Winner for Philosophy in the 2004 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards)

Table of Contents

  • Pt. I    Cynical myths    7
    • 1    Truisms about truth    9
    • 2    Is the truth unattainable?    21
    • 3    Is truth relative?    31
    • 4    The truth hurts    45
  • Pt. II    False theories    59
    • 5    Truth as a means to an end    61
    • 6    Truth and the scientific image    75
    • 7    Truth as fiction    101
  • Pt. III    Why truth matters    117
    • 8    Truth and happiness    119
    • 9    Sweet lies    147
    • 10    Truth and liberal democracy    159