The Last Word

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Oxford University Press, 1997 - Philosophy - 147 pages
3 Reviews
If there is such a thing as reason, it has to be universal. Reason must reflect objective principles whose validity is independent of our point of view - principles that anyone with enough intelligence ought to be able to recognize as correct. But this universality of reason is what relativists and subjectivists deny in ever-increasing numbers. And such subjectivism is not just an inconsequential intellectual flourish or badge of theoretical chic. It is exploited to deflect argument and to belittle the pretensions of the arguments of others. The continuing spread of this relativistic way of thinking threatens to make public discourse increasingly difficult and unproductive. In The Last Word, Thomas Nagel, one of the most influential philosophers writing in English, presents a sustained defense of reason against the attacks of subjectivism, delivering systematic rebuttals of relativistic claims with respect to language, logic, science, and ethics. He shows that the last word in disputes about the objective validity of any form of thought must lie in some unqualified thoughts about how things are - thoughts that we cannot regard from outside as mere psychological dispositions. His work sets a new standard in the debate on this crucially important question and should generate intense interest both within and outside the philosophical community.

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Review: The Last Word

User Review  - Ela - Goodreads

A good headache! Am writing a paper on the Ethics chapter now; comparing some of his writing with Wittgenstein. I canīt believe how much their views have in common... Read full review

Review: The Last Word

User Review  - Kean Chan - Goodreads

Nagel defends the rationalist concept of reason and leads a polemic against subjectivist conventions, exposing them as inherent fallacies Read full review

Selected pages


Why We Cant Understand Thought from the Outside
Evolutionary Naturalism and the Fear of Religion

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About the author (1997)

Thomas Nagel is Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University. He is the author of The View from Nowhere, What Does It All Mean?, The Possibility of Altruism, Mortal Questions, Equality and Partiality, and Other Minds: Critical Essays, 1969-1994.

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