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Isn’t It the Truth?
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  1. Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy
  2. Isn't It the Truth? | by Colin McGinn | The New York Review of Books
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Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy

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Isn't It the Truth? | by Colin McGinn | The New York Review of Books

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  2. Bernard Williams, Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy | SpringerLink!
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  5. And, in the state of nature Williams imagines, the accurate and sincere reporting of truths between persons certainly seems to be necessary to the development of trust between persons, and facilitates human flourishing. Truthfulness, as Williams rightly argues, is instrumentally valuable. Although he does not tell us what his own notion of truth is, he seems to have in mind some version of a correspondence theory of truth.

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    When we are sincere and accurate, we arrive at truths about the way the world really is. It is easy enough to imagine experiences suffered by our State-of-Nature pragmatist that reliably substantiated such a mistaken belief.

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    It serves the purposes of trust and human flourishing. It is a justified, working pragmatic belief, and yet Williams and most of the rest of us would count it as false. Williams also claims that truthfulness is intrinsically valuable, and though many of us will be inclined to agree with him, it is hard to see how his State-of-Nature story can provide truthfulness with more than instrumental value. The functional story Williams tells shows us that truthfulness is useful, but it does not show that it is any more than useful.

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    One reason we might worry about an account of truthfulness that makes it instrumentally valuable and no doubt one reason Williams would like to provide an account of its intrinsic value is that one can easily imagine an account of deception that makes its practice similarly instrumentally valuable. And most of us will agree that at least some deceptive practices—such as the lie of a physician to a dying child—can be justified instrumentally.


    1. Mozarts The Marriage of Figaro: Opera Classics Library Series (Opera Classics Library).
    2. Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy.
    3. 2003.09.15?
    4. Truth Truthfulness Essay Genealogy by Bernard Williams.
    5. Here Williams makes many valuable contributions to current philosophical thinking about deception. Consequently we cannot limit our discussions of deception to merely straightforward verbal lies such as Sissela Bok attempts to do, in her groundbreaking study Lying []. For Williams lies are pernicious for at least two reasons: 1 the liar betrays the trust of the dupe; and 2 the liar exerts power over the dupe, manipulating his or her beliefs and thus potentially his or her choices.

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