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64 Tul. L. Rev. 887 (1989-1990)
Self-Evident Practical Principles and Rationally Motivated Action: A Reply to Michael Perry

handle is hein.journals/tulr64 and id is 907 raw text is: SELF-EVIDENT PRACTICAL PRINCIPLES AND
I wish to thank Michael Perry for his gracious reply to my
critique of his account of moral knowledge. Professor Perry
generously devotes several paragraphs of A Brief Comment to
my criticisms.I I wish to reciprocate by examining his four main
points against my argument and by explaining why I remain
First, Professor Perry claims that I have ignored or misun-
derstood his basic, Wittgensteinian critique of the Adler-Finnis
reliance on 'self-evidence.' 2 But Perry offered no such critique
for me to ignore or misunderstand. In Morality, Politics, and
Law, Perry only quoted a passage from Wittgenstein's On Cer-
tainty that seems to deny the possibility of self-evident practical
principles. Perry then declared, without argument, that
Wittgenstein's claim is the better view.'3 He quotes the pas-
sage again in A Brief Comment:
Giving grounds... comes to an end;-but the end is not cer-
tain propositions' striking us immediately as true, i.e. it is not a
kind of seeing on our part; it is our acting, which lies at the
bottom of the language-game.4
Whatever may be said on behalf of Wittgenstein's claim, its
bare statement cannot reasonably be interpreted as a critique of
competing views, whether mine, Adler's, Finnis's, or anyone
else's. Moreover, even if the claim turned out to be true, its
truth is not self-evident. In any event, Perry is not in a position
to claim that it is self-evident. He makes no effort, either in
Morality, Politics, and Law or in A Brief Comment to defend the
* Assistant Professor, Department of Politics, Princeton University. The author is
grateful to William C. Porth, Walter F. Murphy, Germain G. Grisez, and John M. Finnis
for their helpful comments.
1. Perry, A Brief Comment, 63 TUL. L. REv. 1673, 1675-76 (1989).
2. Id. at 1675.
4. Perry, supra note 1, at 1675 (quoting L. WITTGENSTEIN, ON CERTAINTY 28e
(1969)) (emphasis in original); see also . PERRY, supra note 3, at 15 (quoting L.

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