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The Last Word

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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About the Author

Dr. Thomas Nagel is a Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University.


" comes Professor Nagel's fascinating, even brilliant, book..." * Commonweal * "...(Nagel's) book, which is concise, spare, and well-argued, will prolong discussion by setting it on a new path...what he has to say is challenging, impressive, and thought-provoking." * International Philosophical Quarterly * "Thomas Nagel stands out among today's best philosophers in retaining closer links with big puzzles and mysteries that first attract most people to philosophy. He has a livelier sense of their depth and power than is conspicuous elsewhere in the academic study of philosophy, and admirably resists the widespread tendency to dent a thing's existence because it is difficult or perhaps impossible to understand." * The Times Literary Supplement * Review from previous edition "Nagel's book is a ringing defense of the rationalist conception of reason, and an uncompromising attack on the subjectivist conception...The case that Nagel presents in these chapters should disturb all those who have been lulled, or bludgeoned, into the flabby relativism that is so rampant in contemporary intellectual culture..Nagel's argument is not only correct, it is also urgent...The Last Word is a book that should be read and pondered in this golden age of relativism." * Colin McGinn, The New Republic *

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