Why Truth Matters

Why Truth Matters (Cover)
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By Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom

In Why Truth Matters, Benson and Stangroom answer the clotted, barely readable sentences of the postmodernists with sentences so clear you could swim in them. There should be a law demanding every purchase of a Jacques Derrida “book” be accompanied with a free copy of this shimmering, glimmering answer.

–Johann Hari – The Independent on Sunday (14/05/06)

Why Truth Matters is an excellent example of philosophy done well but also, and not coincidentally, made accessible and exciting.

–Professor Simon Blackburn – The Financial Times (28/07/06)

Why Truth Matters, published by Continuum Books, is an argument for the importance of truth, along with related values and practices of reason, inquiry, evidence, testing, peer review, and the like, and against trendy but incoherent pseudo-philosophical moves that would replace them with wishful thinking.

There have, of course, always been reasonable doubts about humans’ capacity to get at the truth, and to know whether they have done so or not. But it is also true that this reasonable doubt has often been used by people with ideological, religious, political and other wishful axes to grind, to make a case for their own untethered truth-claims; perhaps never more so than in universities in the past three or four decades.

Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom founded the web site Butterflies and Wheels.com in 2002 as a resource for discussion of these issues. Why Truth Matters, following on from that work, examines the spurious claims made for creationism, Holocaust denial, misinterpretation of evolutionary biology, identity history, science as mere social construct, and other ‘paradigms’ that prop up the habit of shaping our findings according to what we want to find.

The subject is serious but it is also full of unintentional comedy, as academics take pratfalls in the shape of silly arguments and shameless rhetoric. Why Truth Matters is often funny, and it is always interesting and lively.

The writing is superbly engaging.

–The Library Journal (May 2006)

The book is beautifully written, and sprinkled with passages of both insight and literary value.

–Keith S. Harris – Entelechy, Spring/Summer 2006.