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Truth, power and history

Bernard Williams beats postmodernism with the stick of historical truthfulness, but that doesn't make the truth itself any easier to define

By Richard J Evans   November 2002

Book: Truth and Truthfulness Author: Bernard Williams (Princeton University Press, £19.95)

Modern society, says Bernard Williams in this important (although in places quite technical) book, places a very high value on truthfulness. If politicians are caught being untruthful about their private life, serious damage is done to their standing because public opinion assumes they cannot be trusted to be truthful in their public life. The modern gladiatorial sport of the high court libel action derives its popularity from the fact that a drama of truthfulness is being played out: who is being truthful, who isn’t? The British television schedules are…

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