Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Routledge Classics) by Bernard Williams

By Bernard Williams

With a brand new foreword by means of Jonathan Lear

'Remarkably full of life and enjoyable…It is a truly wealthy ebook, containing very good descriptions of various ethical theories, and innumerable and sometimes witty observations on themes encountered at the way.' - instances Literary Supplement

Bernard Williams used to be one of many maximum philosophers of his new release. Ethics and the boundaries of Philosophy isn't just generally said to be his most crucial publication, but additionally hailed a latest vintage of ethical philosophy. Drawing at the principles of the Greek philosophers, Williams reorients ethics clear of a preoccupation with common ethical theories in the direction of ‘truth, truthfulness and the which means of somebody life’. He explores and displays upon the main tough difficulties in modern philosophy and identifies new principles approximately crucial matters similar to relativism, objectivity and the potential for moral knowledge.

This variation additionally contains a observation at the textual content by way of A.W.Moore.

At the time of his demise in 2003, Bernard Williams was once hailed by way of the days as 'the remarkable ethical thinker of his age.' He taught on the Universities of Cambridge, Berkeley and Oxford and is the writer of many influential books, together with Morality; Descartes: The undertaking of natural Enquiry (available from Routledge) and fact and Truthfulness.


'Williams's discussions are a lot to be valued: his explicitness and argumentative ingenuity concentration the problems extra sharply, and at higher intensity, than any similar paintings I know...One of the main fascinating contributions of contemporary years, not just to ethics yet to philosophy.' - John McDowell, Mind

'This is a high-quality publication, glittering with intelligence and style.' - Thomas Nagel, magazine of Philosophy

'Bernard Williams has a better strength of notion, deployed over a much broader horizon, than a person else i've got ever listened to.' John Dunn - the days greater schooling Supplement

'Who has no longer asked—if basically whilst depressed—"How should still I stay, and the way am i able to locate out?" To learn this e-book is to be taken via probably the most refined discussions on hand of such questions by means of an enticing, sceptical usually wryly witty and striking refined professional.' - Ronald de Sousa, big apple instances publication Review

'Bernard Williams’s e-book is best learn no longer as an creation to ethics, yet as an try and take inventory of the current nation of the topic. As such, it's a most excellent piece of labor. It illuminatingly maps many of the developments and problems which they encounter…Such stocktaking is far wanted. Bernard Williams is among the thinker top positioned to adopt it, and he has performed it admirably.' - Richard Norman, occasions better schooling Supplement

'Remarkably energetic and enjoyable…It is a really wealthy publication, containing first-class descriptions of a number of ethical theories, and innumerable and infrequently witty observations on issues encountered at the way.' - Philippa Foot, instances Literary Supplement

'Williams's discussions are a lot to be valued: his explicitness and argumentative ingenuity concentration the problems extra sharply, and at larger intensity, than any related paintings I know...One of the main fascinating contributions of modern years, not just to ethics yet to philosophy.' - John McDowell, Mind

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Extra info for Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Routledge Classics)

Sample text

This is quite different from our assumption that these kinds of disposition are enough like other psychological characteristics to explain how one person can, so to speak, do better in one area than another. This assumption, too, does something to inhibit reactions to other people. 41 42 ETHICS AND THE LIMITS OF PHILOSOPHY Despite these considerations, there is still a connection between the ethical dispositions and reactions to others. The exact nature or depth of those reactions, and the degree of their self-confidence, will vary between individuals and in different cultural climates—but, as Aristotle claimed, an ethical disposition is not simply a personal pattern of behavior to which there may be contingently added a tendency to deplore or regret its absence in others.

The contractual theory was particularly weak in this respect because it was unstable with respect to a superior agent, one more intelligent and resourceful and persuasive than the rest. It was above all for this sort of agent that Plato thought skepticism had to be met, and justice and the ethical life shown to be rational. In this respect, for Plato, the contractual theory failed. It failed, moreover, because of a certain structural feature: it represented as ethically basic a desirable or useful practice, the conventions of justice.

But that is not necessarily so. Leaving aside the desultory or, indeed, artificial motives that Callicles had for his conversation with Socrates, there is the important fact that people may be driven by a common need—at the limit, by a common fear of disaster—to negotiate understandings of limited cooperation or at least of nonaggression. 6 In any case, they do not in themselves issue in any shared ethical understanding. This is enough to show that people can have a rational discussion without sharing an ethical system.

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