The philosopher Stuart Hampshire served in British military intelligence during the Second World War. When we were colleagues at Princeton he told me about the following incident, which must have taken place shortly a)er the Normandy landings. The French Resistance had captured an important collaborator, who was thought to have information that would be useful to the Allies. Hampshire was sent to interrogate him. When he arrived, the head of the Resistance unit told Hampshire he could question the man, but that when he was through they were going to shoot him: that’s what they always did with these people. He then le) Hampshire alone with the prisoner. The man said immediately that he would tell Hampshire nothing unless Hampshire guaranteed he would be turned over to the British. Hampshire replied that he could not give such a guarantee. So the man told him nothing before he was shot by the French.

Another philosopher, when I told him this story, commented drily that what it showed was that Hampshire was a very poor choice for the assignment.

LRB Vol. 43 No. 11 · 3 June 2021, Types of Intuition, by Thomas Nagel.