Toronto, August 18-20, 2010
We live in an age of skepticism about the idea of truth. Contemporary skeptics question the nature and value of truth and the concomitant virtue of truthfulness. Skepticism about truth is not restricted to popular culture. It occurs within the academic world, where deflationists have argued that the idea of truth is not a substantive notion and some poststructuralists have portrayed it as primarily the scene of struggles for power. Such skepticism is surprising, for truth and truthfulness have been central to Western civilization and the academic enterprise. Historically, the idea of truth has helped organize Western intellectual culture since ancient times. It is a central theme in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the three monotheistic religions that have shaped Western society. Conceptually, the idea of truth sets a stage for fundamental debates about the point and worth of academic work: debates between realists and anti-realists in philosophy, theology, and the natural sciences, for example, or between relativists and anti-relativists in the humanities and social sciences. Societally, the idea of truth provides a normative background for ethics, law, and public discourse: we expect friends and colleagues to be truthful; we ask witnesses in courts of law to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”; and we get upset when journalists deliberately fabricate their reports.
Given both contemporary skepticism and the centrality of truth, we believe it is time to reconceptualize truth and to reclaim truthfulness for the academic enterprise. The conference organizers have undertaken an interdisciplinary philosophical effort to develop a new model of truth. Now we wish to expand the scope of our work by engaging with discussion partners from other schools and from across the disciplines. The Truth Matters conference will be an occasion for international dialogue and debate. Relevant topics for papers and proposals include:
· artistic and narrative truth
· power, truth, and ideology
· realism, anti-realism, and truth
· relativism, anti-relativism, and truth
· religious truth
· teaching and learning for truth
· truth in ethics
· truthfulness in public life
We invite submissions in English of 700-word proposals or papers not exceeding 3500 words. Interdisciplinary approaches are welcome, and submissions by graduate students are encouraged. There will be up to two merit-based graduate essay awards of $250 Canadian. All submissions must be formatted for blind review. On a separate cover sheet give your name, contact information, and 2-4 key words. Please identify yourself as a graduate student if you wish to be considered for an award. Send your submission via e-mail to TruthMatters@icscanada.edu
Submission deadline: March 1, 2010.
Truth Matters continues a series of conferences on issues of faith and scholarship organized by four schools in the Reformed tradition. It is hosted by the Institute for Christian Studies, a graduate school for interdisciplinary philosophy in Toronto, and co-sponsored by Calvin College (Grand Rapids, MI), Dordt College (Sioux Center, IA), and the Free University (Amsterdam).
For general inquiries, contact Ronnie Shuker also at TruthMatters@icscanada.edu