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Lecture 2

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Sol Goldberg

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THPHL217 LECTURE 2 SEPT 14 2011Why WilliamsTrained at Oxford taught at Cambridge for the majority of his career Became among ththe most influential moral philosophers of the later 20 century in the English speaking worldBy training by style of argument and by his own sphere of influence he is to be grouped in the analytic camp of philosophyThat said unlike many other analytic philosophers he stands out in that he counts Nietzsche among his most important philosophical sources and he engages contemporary continental philosophy like Foucalt Derrida etc He is very critical of much of this tradition at times perhaps unfairlyWilliams himself recognizes the inaptness of the name continental for the group he is taking on The success of the substitute deniers depends on how we interpret his formulation of the question of what truth is and how we see his efforts to acknowledge both the usefulness and errors of the deniers It will depend on whether Williams has gone far enough in capturing a theory of truthWilliams ProblemIt is not for him an abstract difficulty or just a paradox It has consequences for real politics pg 2It is important for him that his theory of truth works for and maps on to the way people actually conduct their livesWhat is the real consequence of the problem of truth Two minimal and maximal answer Minimal problem that he finds with the contemporary humanities Is there something like legitimate authority in intellectual matters If you give up that their is some legitimacy to intellectual authority you are left with basic power structures and he believes this is a perversion of the humanitiesMaximal we lose the common world that we share with one another If we deny the truth we lose the common world in which we interact with each other to the extent that we lose a sense of the value of truth we shall certainly lose something and may well lose everything pg 7The claim that the problem has real life consequences makes sense because it has real life origins For example in our daily lives we are used to being deceived and we dont like it Thus there seems to be a basic value placed on truth and truthfulness It seems that if we are inclined to avoid being deceived on some level we seekvalue truthfulness and truth On the other hand there seems to be an equally powerful suspicion is there something like truth in itself and if there is such a thing could it ever be known by us Fundamental contradiction if were committed to truthfulness and finding out the truth and we simultaneously say that no truth is out there we run the risk of contradicting ourselves in our very behaviourA Problem with Williams Problem
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