Front Page Titles (by Subject) Truth as an Objective Value - Literature of Liberty, October/December 1978, vol. 1, No. 4
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Truth as an Objective Value - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, October/December 1978, vol. 1, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Truth as an Objective Value
“Scepticism, Self-Refutation, and The Good of Truth.” In Law, Morality, and Society: Essays in Honor of H.L.A. Hart. Edited by P.M.S. Hacker and J. Raz. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977, pp. 247–267.
In The Concept of Law (1961) legal theorist H.L.A. Hart argues that the most fundamental human value is survival and that all other values are instrumental means to that value. Questions of the ultimate source and ground of value are crucial for any discussion of a particular value (such as liberty) and for establishing an objective morality. Since many recent discussions of value assume the truth of something similar to Hart's claim, it is important to critically examine that notion.
Against Hart's position, Finnis argues that survival is no more basic a value than truth. Indeed, the Aristotelian-Thomist notion maintains that the bios theoretikos (life of the mind) is as fundamental as any human value, if not more so.
The value of truth emerges by using a retorsive argument. Resembling intellectual boomerangs, retorsive arguments show that one cannot assert certain sceptical propositions without selfcontradiction (e.g., Aristotle's rebuke to the sceptic: “let the man who denies the law of contradiction speak first”). In a similar vein, one who denies that truth is a value worth knowing ends in self-contradiction. In other words, one cannot under any circumstances deny that truth is a good. This places truth on as fundamental a level as any other good (such as survival).
Essentially this argument boils down to the position that one must assume the very value of truth in order to deny that truth might not have value. Whether Finnis's argument demolishes the notion that life is the ultimate value remains to be settled.