By Mark P. Jenkins
From his earliest paintings on own id to his final at the price of truthfulness, the information and arguments of Bernard Williams - within the metaphysics of personhood, within the heritage of philosophy, yet particularly in ethics and ethical psychology - have proved occasionally arguable, usually influential, and continually worthy learning. This ebook presents a finished account of Williams's many major contributions to modern philosophy. issues contain own identification, quite a few evaluations of ethical conception, useful reasoning and ethical motivation, fact and objectivity, and the relevance of historical Greece to trendy lifestyles. It not just positions Williams between those vital philosophical subject matters, but in addition with reference to the perspectives of different philosophers, together with in demand forerunners corresponding to Hume and Nietzsche and modern thinkers corresponding to, Nagel, McDowell, MacIntyre and Taylor. The fragmentary nature of Williams's paintings is addressed and routine issues and connections inside of his paintings are dropped at mild.
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Extra info for Bernard Williams (Philosophy Now Series)
34 Critique of utilitarianism Integrity: feelings Utilitarianism compromises integrity by alienating agents from their feelings, particularly “in circumstances where there are strong reasons . . for doing something which one finds morally distasteful, and against which one has a strong personal commitment” (Williams 1981k: 40). Actions do not, of course, take place in a psychological or emotional vacuum, and Williams’s focus here is on the way utilitarianism accommodates, or fails to accommodate, the intense feelings of someone like Jim, called upon by circumstance and the utilitarian calculus to kill a man.
38 Critique of utilitarianism But, having made this mistake, Williams believes that the ensuing charge of moral self-indulgence is quite understandable: For if [integrity] is regarded as a motive, it is hard to reconstruct its representation in thought except in the objectionable reflexive way: the thought would have to be about oneself and one’s character, and of the suspect kind. If integrity had to be provided with a characteristic thought, there would be nothing for the thought to be about except oneself – but there is no such characteristic thought, only the thoughts associated with the projects, in carrying out which a man may display his integrity.
In rejecting 25 Bernard Williams the all-or-nothing view of personal identity, Parfit cites dramatic variation in degrees of psychological connectedness, so dramatic, in fact, that he feels warranted in referring to “successive selves” in those cases “When the connections have been markedly reduced – when there has been a significant change of character, or style of life, or of beliefs and ideals” (Parfit 1984: 304–5). Such talk seems seriously to threaten the concept of unity of agency over time and, moreover, to raise one particular moral theory above its rivals: If we cease to believe that persons are separately existing entities, and come to believe that the unity of a life involves no more than the various relations between the experiences in this life, it becomes more plausible to become more concerned about the quality of experiences, and less concerned about whose experiences they are.