True to Life
Why Truth Matters
- Gold Award Winner for Philosophy in the 2004 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards
216 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: August 13, 2004
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: August 5, 2005
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Why truth is important in our everyday lives.
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.
Bradford Books imprint
Wit is surpassed only by acumen in this pithy book. Chief objections to physicalism are stated lucidly, and rebutted convincingly. The field is enlivened and even readers who demur will reap.
Ernest Sosa, Departments of Philosophy, Brown University and Rutgers University
An engagingly written, carefully reasoned defence of 'objective truth' as a respectable, even desirable goal and standard.
The Globe and Mail
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.
The New York Times Book Review
This is an important and timely volume, and philosophy owes Lynch a considerable debt.
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.
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...
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