1st Edition

Social Domains of Truth Science, Politics, Art, and Religion

By Lambert Zuidervaart Copyright 2023

    Truth is in trouble. In response, this book presents a new conception of truth. It recognizes that prominent philosophers have questioned whether the idea of truth is important. Some have asked why we even need it. Their questions reinforce broader trends in Western society, where many wonder whether or why we should pursue truth. Indeed, some pundits say we have become a "post-truth" society. Yet there are good reasons not to embrace the cultural Zeitgeist or go with the philosophical flow, reasons to regard truth as a substantive and socially significant idea.

    This book explains why. First it argues that propositional truth is only one kind of truth—an important kind, but not all important. Then it shows how propositional truth belongs to the more comprehensive process of truth as a whole. This process is a dynamic correlation between human fidelity to societal principles and a life-giving disclosure of society. The correlation comes to expression in distinct social domains of truth, where either propositional or nonpropositional truth is primary. The final chapters lay out five such domains: science, politics, art, religion, and philosophy. Anyone who cares about the future of truth in society will want to read this pathbreaking book.

    1. Introduction: Truth Is Not a Minted Coin
    1.1 On the Very Idea of Truth
    1.2 Kinds and Domains of Truth
    1.3 Holistic Alethic Pluralism

    2. Propositional Truth: Facts and Propositions
    2.1 Facts and States of Affairs
    2.2 Beliefs and Propositions
    2.3 Decontextualized Disclosure

    3. Accurate Insight and Inferential Validity
    3.1 Knowledge and Propositions
    3.2 Truth of Propositions
    3.3 Propositional Truth and Objective Knowledge

    4. Alethic Pluralism
    4.1 Functionalism: Michael Lynch
    4.2 Practical Pluralism
    4.3 Social Domains of Truth

    5. Propositional Truth and Discursive Justification
    5.1 Alston’s Minimal Alethic Realism
    5.2 Putnam’s Internal Realism
    5.3 Post-Anti/Realism

    6. Truth as a Whole and Authentication
    6.1 Isomorphism, Fidelity, and Disclosure
    6.2 Kinds and Types of Truth
    6.3 Bearing Witness to Truth
    6.4 Modes of Authentication

    7. Truth and Science
    7.1 Science as a Social Domain
    7.2 Scientific Realism and Theoretical Truth
    7.3 Science in Society

    8. Truth and Politics
    8.1 Hannah Arendt: Speaking Truth to Power
    8.2 Michel Foucault: Linking Power to Truth
    8.3 Political Truth

    9. Truth in Art and Religion
    9.1 Artistic Truth
    9.2 Art and Politics
    9.3 Religious Truth
    9.4 Religion and Science

    10. Philosophy, Truth, and Wisdom
    10.1 Art, Religion, and Philosophy
    10.2 Truth and Historicity
    10.3 Social Critique and Practical Wisdom


    Lambert Zuidervaart is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the Institute for Christian Studies and at the University of Toronto. He is the author of eleven books, including Truth in Husserl, Heidegger, and the Frankfurt School (MIT Press, 2017), Art in Public: Politics, Economics, and a Democratic Culture (Cambridge UP, 2011), and Social Philosophy after Adorno (Cambridge UP, 2007). He has contributed to The Routledge Handbook of the Frankfurt School (2018), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2015), and journals like the European Journal of Philosophy, Telos, and Philosophy and Social Criticism.