The Asymmetry of Truth and the Role of Thinking Guides in Ethics

Kuusela, Oskari (2019) The Asymmetry of Truth and the Role of Thinking Guides in Ethics. In: Morality in A Realistic Spirit. Routledge.

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In her recent work Cora Diamond discusses, with reference to Elizabeth Anscombe, David Wiggins and Bernard Williams, the logical function of propositions which, albeit they state something true, lack an intelligible negation, and are asymmetrical in this sense. An example from David Wiggins is ‘Slavery is unjust and unsupportable’ the negation of which, he argues, cannot be part of any ‘workable system of moral ideas’. Diamond develops an account of such propositions as ‘thinking guides’ whose purpose is to enable one to think well and, following Aristotle and Anscombe, she proposes an account of the truth and correspondence with reality of such propositions. While I agree with Diamond’s account in many respects, I argue in what follows that her way of connecting truth with usefulness and importance cannot give us a workable account of truth, and that unless we distinguish clearly between the senses in which thinking guides as opposed to judgments are true, her account risks misleadingly assimilating cases that ought to be kept separate. Instead, I propose to clarify the matter with the help of Wittgenstein’s distinction between temporal and non-temporal statements. Furthermore, I use this distinction to address a relevant problem with Wiggins’ account of truth and objectivity in ethics, as well as to argue that Williams’ argument against Wiggins on objectivity fails. Equipped with Wittgenstein’s distinction we can steer clear of ethical relativism.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: ethics,truth,cora diamond,wittgenstein,non-temporality
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Philosophy
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2017 06:09
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2020 13:20
DOI: 10.4324/9781351064309-10

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