Truth and Consequences

Polly Mitchell, Alan Cribb, Vikki Entwistle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In his 1987 paper “Truth or Consequences,” Dan Brock describes a deep conflict between the goals and virtues of philosophical scholarship and public policymaking: whereas the former is concerned with the search for truth, the latter must primarily be concerned with promoting good consequences. When philosophers are engaged in policymaking, he argues, they must shift their primary goal from truth to consequences—but this has both moral and methodological costs. Brock’s argument exemplifies a pessimistic, but not uncommon, view of the possible shape and nature of applied philosophy. The present paper paints a richer and more optimistic picture. It argues that the difference between theoretical philosophy and applied philosophy is not best understood as a choice between truth and consequences. On the contrary, applied philosophers engage in forms of truth-seeking that are properly concerned with consequences—including the consequences of philosophical practice itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-538
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2023


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