The normativity of truth for the human person: a person-centric approach
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After countering claims that truth cannot be a norm of belief, this dissertation argues that truth’s normativity is grounded in personhood. It does so by attending to the fact that truth is a norm for the human person, and to the relationships between the human person and the objective goodness and value of truth. The dissertation develops this argument by critically appropriating writings of Thomas Aquinas and representatives of twentieth-century personalism on the relationship between truth and the human person. The dissertation’s initial chapters rebut objections (1) that the involuntariness of belief rules out any possibility of norms of belief, (2) that truth cannot be a norm of belief because truth is unable to provide guidance in determining what to believe, and (3) that it is incompatible with other norms of belief such as justification. It rebuts the first objection by challenging its general account of belief and outlining an alternative account. It responds to the second argument by criticizing its understanding of guidance as overly narrow and sketching an alternative notion of guidance-by-value. It counters the third objection by arguing for the primacy of the truth-norm. The dissertation then takes up the question of what grounds the truth-norm. Chapter Three surveys recent accounts, drawing from its survey a set of desiderata for any satisfactory account. Chapter Four begins the dissertation’s account of the normativity of truth. Working from Dietrich von Hildebrand’s conception of objective goods, it argues that truth is an objective good for the person by showing how deeply interwoven truth is with friendship. Given that friendship is an objective good for the person, and that truth stands in certain intimate relationships to friendship, it follows that truth is an objective good for the person. Chapter Five rounds out the argument. The objective goodness of truth entails that truth is a value. Values are normative for persons. Therefore, truth is normative for the human person. This chapter defends the claim that values are normative for persons by elucidating the dependency of the realization of personhood—in several of its various dimensions—on value-grasping and value-realizing acts.