The Whole Truth

AHRC logoDr Simon Bar‌nes (Research Fellow)

Dr Stephan Leuenberger (PI)

Prof. Burkhard Schafer (CI)

Dr Martin Smith (CI)

Dr Bruno Whittle (Research Fellow)


January 2016 - November 2017



Often, we want to know the whole truth about something. But what is it to be the whole truth? This project aims examine various philosophical and legal aspects of what may be called the problem of totality – the problem of accounting for the distinction between a partial and a total or complete description.

There are various distinct concepts of totality. A description is total in one sense if it entails every truth; it is total in a different sense if it entails every positive truth – where a positive truth, roughly, is one that is made true by the presence rather than the absence of something. There are yet further such notions. We aim to characterize them, and to clarify their relationships.

These distinctions and characterizations can be used to shed light on a number or debates and arguments where concepts of totality play a hitherto neglected role. The project aims to contribute to our understanding of physicalism, defeasible reasoning, and the law of perjury, among other things.

"The Whole Truth" divides into four sub-projects: