Chapter

Bernard Williams on Truth's Values

John Finnis

in Reason in Action

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580057
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729379 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580057.003.0006
Bernard Williams on Truth's Values

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This chapter is the first part of a 2008 essay whose other parts are collected as Chapter 7 in Volume II of this text and Chapter 8 in Volume V. Here Williams's project in the last book he published, Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy, is described and assessed. Its critique of scepticism is valuable, but the four objections he brings against Plato's conception of the cause of the world's intelligibility are shown to be misconceived. In relation to practical reason, with its foundational understanding of such goods as knowledge and friendship, Williams's famous distinction between internal and external reasons is to be regarded as merely updating Hume's unwarrantable dogma that reasons as such cannot motivate. Williams's attack on ‘the morality system’ (that is, on morality) simply assumes that there are no substantive first principles of practical reason, and thus shuts its eyes to intelligibilities available to us all.

Keywords: Bernard Williams; Plato; practical reason; first principles; truth; internal and external reasons; scepticism; Hume

Chapter.  5896 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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