Download Reading Bernard Williams by Daniel Callcut PDF

By Daniel Callcut

When Bernard Williams died in 2003, the days newspaper hailed him ‘as the best ethical thinker of his generation’. This notable selection of especially commissioned new essays on Williams's work is crucial studying for a person drawn to Williams, ethics and ethical philosophy and philosophy in general.
Reading Bernard Williams examines the spectacular scope of his philosophy from metaphysics and philosophy of brain to ethics, political philosophy and the heritage of philosophy. a global line up of exceptional participants talk about, among others, the next vital facets of Williams's work:

  • Williams's problem to modern ethical philosophy and his criticisms of 'absolute' theories of morality
  • reason and rationality
  • the strong life
  • the emotions
  • Williams and the phenomenological tradition
  • philosophical and political agency
  • moral and political luck
  • ethical relativism

Contributors : Simon Blackburn; John Cottingham; Frances Ferguson; Joshua Gert; Peter Goldie; Charles Guignon; Sharon Krause; Christopher Kutz; Daniel Markovits; Elijah Millgram; Martha Naussbaum; Carol Rovane


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As for Williams’ broader worry about the wide variation in human societies and ethical systems, this is an important fact, and can readily be conceded. And in the light of that, it can also be conceded that it is implausible to suppose a general account of ‘human nature’ will generate a single distinctive pattern for human flourishing. g. the rose) will not in itself be able to determine all the properties that must be present in any flourishing variety of that species. The various different types of rose tended by the horticulturalist may all constitute valid examples of flourishing for that species; and what is more, despite their distinctive virtues and splendours they all have something in common – that characteristic form that makes them instantly recognizable as roses.

Bernard Williams was very pessimistic about the viability of that project, at least in anything like its traditional ambitious form; and the eloquent articulation of the grounds for such pessimism – centring on the problem of contingency – was among his most potent philosophical legacies. For those among us who harbour the hope that the ancient project is still one we can reasonably address, it is a matter of some importance to see if we can find a way of defusing that pessimism. 3 This observation coheres with Williams’ interest in the aetiology of ethics, and its subversive potentialities.

If there is any contingency that threatens the equilibrium of our ethical conceptions, it is not going to be found by looking at the realm of biology and the alleged instabilities to be discovered there. Culture is a different matter. Here we see massive and recognizable changes over historically manageable periods of time. 13 Even if we go back a generation or two, to the world of our own parents or grandparents, we find conceptions of a good human life incorporating models of what sort of behaviour is to be admired and emulated that are very different from our own.

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