Concealment and Exposure: And Other Essays by Thomas Nagel

By Thomas Nagel

Thomas Nagel is widely known as one of many most sensible American philosophers operating this present day. Reflecting the variety of his many philosophical preoccupations, this quantity is a set of his most modern severe essays and studies. the 1st part, private and non-private, makes a speciality of the thought of privateness within the context of social and political matters, corresponding to the impeachment of President Clinton. the second one part, correct and flawed, discusses ethical, political and felony concept, and comprises items on John Rawls, G.A. Cohen, and T.M. Scanlon, between others. the ultimate part, brain and truth, gains discussions of Richard Rorty, Donald Davidson, and the Sokal hoax, and closes with a considerable new essay at the mind-body challenge. Written with attribute rigor, those items demonstrate the highbrow ardour underlying the incisive research for which Nagel is known.


"[A] amazing publication. it's remarkable in part for the additional first-class evaluate articles that it provides to the opposite Minds archive, and in part for the energetic and obtainable creation it offers to Nagel's personal concept and highbrow personality...[T]he essays during this quantity, taken jointly, do greater than the other philosophical writings identified to me to carry out the advanced and treacherous fact within the previous maxim that the private is political."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

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Extra info for Concealment and Exposure: And Other Essays

Sample text

It is this qualified independence of the best overall results, calculated in agent-neutral terms, that gives rights their distinctive character. Of course, if rights are instrumental—derivative from the agent-neutral value or disvalue of certain sorts of outcomes—then there is no problem because their agent-relative character is not something morally basic. But if they are not merely instrumental, then they can, as I have said, seem paradoxical; for how could it be wrong to harm one person to prevent greater harm to others?

But whatever their immediate effect, these forms of exposure are in themselves very damaging to public life, and the fact that they have become commonplace shows that American society has lost its grip on a fundamental value, one that cannot be enforced by law alone but without which civilization would not survive. The distinction between what an individual exposes to public view and what he conceals or exposes only to intimates is essential to permit creatures as complex as ourselves to interact without constant social breakdown.

The public gaze is inhibiting because, except for infants and psychopaths, it brings into effect expressive constraints and requirements of 6. André Gide, Ainsi Soit-Il (Paris: Gallimard, 1952), pp. 49–50. The Italian poet and critic Giosuè Carducci was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1906. 18 Public and Private self-presentation that are strongly incompatible with the natural expression of strong or intimate feeling. And it presents us with a demand to justify ourselves before others that we cannot meet for those things that we cannot put a good face on.

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