Truth in Context

An Essay on Pluralism and Objectivity

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.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Introduction
  3. 1. The Faces of Pluralism
  4. 2. Understanding Conceptual Schemes
  5. 3. Extending Our Worldview
  6. 4. The Nature of Existence
  7. 5. The Currents of Truth
  8. 6. The True and the Real
  9. Notes
  10. References
  11. Index