By Alan Thomas

This quantity presents a scientific review and finished evaluate of Bernard Williams's contribution to ethical philosophy, a box during which Williams was once essentially the most influential of latest philosophers. The seven essays, that have been in particular commissioned for this quantity, research his paintings on ethical objectivity, the character of useful cause, ethical emotion, the critique of the "morality system," Williams's overview of the moral considered the traditional international, and his later adoption of Nietzsche's approach to "genealogy."

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For if it were, it would not be able to indicate, with the detachment necessary to be used in this way, what makes both that item of knowledge and an item of knowledge from an 37 38 Cf. Moore (1997a), pp. 82–83. ” Thus consider someone who knows that the earth orbits the sun. In order to indicate the fact that makes this item of knowledge true, the conception must actually incorporate the claim that the earth orbits the sun – or else a set of claims that entail that the earth orbits the sun. It cannot just incorporate some claim about the fact that makes this item of knowledge true, for instance the claim that the item of knowledge is made true by the fact which Copernicus famously established.

23 ) I have suggested that representing things from no point of view can still leave room for decisions between rival conceptualizations. What sort of thing do I have in mind? 24 He later has a splendid analogy to illustrate this. He writes: [Irresolubly rival systems of the world] describe one and the same world. Limited to our human terms and devices, we grasp the world variously. 25 20 21 22 23 24 25 For the importance of this distinction, cf. McDowell (1994), p. 28. “Commonplace,” as I suggested in note 4, does not preclude opposition.

The critique of the morality system, then, has to identify a restricted target and to be interpreted as using some of our ethical (and philosophical) ideas to criticize others. Our commitment to truthfulness undermines a set of ideas grounded partly on an ethical ideal of purity, partly on mistaken philosophical views about agency, voluntariness, and emotion and partly on our continuing use of some practically useful fictions that have, as is characteristic of key concepts of the morality system, done a very good job of concealing their tracks (as Craig puts it later in this volume).

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