Truth in Context
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 1999
Academic debates about pluralism and truth have become increasingly polarized in recent years. One side embraces extreme relativism, deeming any talk of objective truth as philosophically naïve. The opposition, frequently arguing that any sort of relativism leads to nihilism, insists on an objective notion of truth according to which there is only one true story of the world. Both sides agree that there is no middle path.
In Truth in Context, Michael Lynch argues that there is a middle path, one where metaphysical pluralism is consistent with a robust realism about truth. Drawing on the work of Hilary Putnam, W. V. O. Quine, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, among others, Lynch develops an original version of metaphysical pluralism, which he calls relativistic Kantianism. He argues that one can take facts and propositions as relative without implying that our ordinary concept of truth is a relative, epistemic, or "soft" concept. The truths may be relative, but our concept of truth need not be.
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.
"This clear and well-written book is a fascinating attempt to find avia media between the thesis that there is 'one true storyof the world' and the thesis that there is no objective truth orfalsity. Lynch calls his middle way pluralism: he argues that,although there is more than one truth, there is nevertheless such athing as objective falsity. Despite the fact that I amconstitutionally unable to accept Lynch's conclusions, I regard thisas an important book. This is the book that those of us who believe in'the one true story of the world' will have to refute."
—Peter van Inwagen, John Cardinal O'Hara Professor of Philosophy, The University of Notre Dame