True to Life
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.
About the Author
Michael P. Lynch is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut and the author of Truth in Context: An Essay on Pluralism and Objectivity and True to Life: Why Truth Matters, both published by the MIT Press.
"True to Life is a passionate demonstration that truth matters; it is strikingly clear and painstakingly reasoned, and ranges from technical work in the philosophy of logic to a discussion of the role of truth-telling in government.", Anthony Gottlieb, The New York Times Book Review
"An engagingly written, carefully reasoned defence of 'objective truth' as a respectable, even desirable goal and standard.", Barry Allen, The Globe and Mail
"This is an important and timely volume, and philosophy owes Lynch a considerable debt.", Duncan Pritchard, The Philosophers' Magazine
"True to Life is a bracing antidote to the disease of postmodern cynicism that renders truth impossible and leaves us with nothing but wind-blown opinion.", Douglas Groothuis, The Denver Post
"True to Life...asserts some simple truths about truth; for example, that it's good, [and] that it's worthy of pursuit...", Richard Halicks, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"True to Life performs a major public service. Michael Lynch explains with engaging energy and clarity why the concept of truth matters to a decent public culture. Fully accessible to people without prior philosophical training, the book nonetheless explains serious philosophical debates with considerable sophistication. It will be wonderful for use (and debate) in undergraduate courses in many disciplines, but it is also just good reading for anyone who is interested in unmasking deception and confusion, and who thinks that this activity matters for the health of democracy."
—Martha Nussbaum, The University of Chicago
"Lynch has undertaken the crucially important project of presenting and defending the view that truth, in a robust sense of the term, is viable, attainable, and important for our lives. By virtue of his mastery of the subject matter and his gift for exposition, he is well suited to carry out this difficult task, and he has done so with consummate skill."
—William P. Alston, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Syracuse University
"Issues concerning intellectual value have come to the fore in recent essay collections, monographs, and journal articles. Why is knowledge valuable beyond true belief? What is the value of truth itself? This book by Michael Lynch is a timely, and excellent, contribution to that emerging field."
—Ernest Sosa, Departments of Philosophy, Brown University and Rutgers University
Gold Award Winner for Philosophy in the 2004 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards