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The pursuit of truth is named as fundamental to any account of knowledge, and is, therefore, intrinsic to all systems of education, let alone systems of religious or ethical belief. Yet ‘truth’ is a word likely to cause embarrassment among many people, perhaps especially teachers, if it is invoked as the (or a) point of some part of the curriculum.

Unease of this kind is not without its justification, since nothing is more fruitless in intellectual discussion than attempts to define what are sometimes called ‘absolute truths’. Yet people can and do say with certainty and with right on their side that, as it was put in the American Declaration of Independence, ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident’. Determining and revering what is true ...

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