Res Publica 27 (2):155-170 (2021)

Cheryl Misak
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
This paper views Bernard Williams through the lens of the pragmatist tradition. The central insight of pragmatism is that philosophy must start with human practice, in contrast to high theory or metaphysics. Williams was one of the twentieth century’s most able proponents of this insight, especially when considering the topics of ethics and the law. Williams never saw himself as a pragmatist, because he took Richard Rorty’s radical relativism to be the exemplar of the position. But I shall suggest that had Williams seen himself as a more objective pragmatist, along the lines of C. S. Peirce, C. I. Lewis, or Frank Ramsey, he might have had the resources to settle vital issues on which he wavered, issues having to do with whether there is anything objective underpinning our deliberations.
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DOI 10.1007/s11158-020-09468-y
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Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy.Bernard Williams - 2002 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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