In general I notice that a lot of Western philosophy emphasizes truth as a value.

For example, John Vervaeke argues truth as value using the following argument (to paraphrase): "Would you want to know if your girlfriend or partner is cheating on you?" His students raise their hands up.

And after a claiming this is despite you believing that the relationship is perfect, he concludes that truth is a value. However, personally I feel he's conflating truth with honesty.

Saying truth has value is like saying now that I know what the 100,000,000,000 digit of pi is I have created value!

Is there a mainstream consensus on this by the philosophy community. How do they counter these kinds of arguments?

  • "now that I know what the 100 billionth digit of pi is I have created value!" Probably not much, but yes indeed, you did. Let's say you wanted to do very precise calculations, you're better off with this than without. At least you're not worse. I don't understand the argument. "However, personally I feel he's conflating truth with honesty." There are other ways to find out about affairs than your partner honestly telling you. In that context truth and honesty are not the same. Generally speaking true information is more valuable than mistaken statements or ignorance. It's kind of obvious.
    – armand
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 9:29
  • I notice in both examples you subtly use another value of usability to essentially argue that truth has value. I don't think all truth is usable or even relevant for that matter. Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 9:33
  • That's right, and I admit so ("probably not much") but no truth is detrimental either. Would you rather be wrong about the decimals of Pi? And the value of truth has nothing to do with the fact that you misunderstood verveake's point.
    – armand
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 9:38
  • Search for truth is at the origin of Western phil, at least since Parmenides and Plato. Presumably, also the influence of Christian religion is relevant. Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 9:45
  • @armand What I'm getting at you cannot put truth in a value system. Again to argue truth is detrimental I would have to use other values. For example, if people who wish to commit evil knew the rsa encryption key then evil would prevail. Notice there are other values in the play over here like "evil" Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 9:46

2 Answers 2


Truth and authenticity have a major implication on the agency of an individual. Like we form our narratives, models, plans and whatnot on empiric data and while that is usually still a shaky endeavor, authentic input is kind of a necessary requirement to produce anything useful. Otherwise your world view is based on wrong information and will fail you sooner or later or will leave you without agency because your assumptions of cause and effect are majorly distorted to the point where you actions and intentions might have nothing to do with each other and where one or the other or both can be subject to someone else's plan and not yours.

So knowing "the truth" gives you at least the option to decide for yourself how you feel about it, while being left in an illusion will just someday give you the feeling of something being wrong or will crush your world (view) entirely.

Setting aside for a moment the fact that "the truth" is a very problematic term because it often covers more than just the pure facts, as we think in narratives and for any set of facts there's a near infinite set of narratives to tie together those facts. But the more relevant facts you know the better your chances to be able to make a narrative that is less wrong then the majority of narratives.

  • I like this somewhat absurd answer.
    – user61846
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 11:14
  • I like this answer as well but it seems to argue truth more as a tool than a value Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 12:16
  • are tools and values necessarily mutually exclusive? Like tools are very valuable in application to the point where you can consider them to be a value itself.
    – haxor789
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 12:19
  • Tools can be used to create value and it's opposite as well. Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 12:32
  • Ideally tools should be used with wisdom. Which is a different from truth. Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 12:34

Some facts are trivial. Does that mean they are not worth knowing? Sure, why not. Maybe even seeking out trivial facts trivialises our lives. But really it is enough to show that truth does not reduce to sincerity, to show that truth can be valuable.

If you mean facts you won't act on which do not just counter deceit, you could always look into ideological critique, which adds something to our conventional understanding of deceit.

Or 'authenticity'. Or the philosophy of curiosity. whatever.

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