Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy

 
9780001971714: Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy

By the time of his death in 2003, Bernard Williams was one of the greatest philosophers of his generation. Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy is not only widely acknowledged to be his most important book, but also hailed a contemporary classic of moral philosophy.

Presenting a sustained critique of moral theory from Kant onwards, Williams reorients ethical theory towards ‘truth, truthfulness and the meaning of an individual life’. He explores and reflects upon the most difficult problems in contemporary philosophy and identifies new ideas about central issues such as relativism, objectivity and the possibility of ethical knowledge.

This edition also includes a new commentary on the text by A.W.Moore and a foreword by Jonathan Lear.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

At the time of his death in 2003, Bernard Williams was hailed by the Times as 'the outstanding moral philosopher of his age.' He taught at the Universities of Cambridge, Berkeley and Oxford and is the author of many influential books, including Morality; Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry (available from Routledge) and Truth and Truthfulness.

Review:

'Williams's discussions are much to be valued: his explicitness and argumentative ingenuity focus the issues more sharply, and at greater depth, than any comparable work I know...One of the most interesting contributions of recent years, not only to ethics but to philosophy.' - John McDowell, Mind

'This is a superior book, glitering with intelligence and style.' - Thomas Nagel, Journal of Philosophy

'Remarkably lively and enjoyable...It is a very rich book, containing excellent descriptions of a variety of moral theories, and innumerable and often witty observations on topics encountered on the way.' - Times Literary Supplement

'Bernard Williams has a greater force of thought, deployed over a wider horizon, than anyone else I have ever listened to.' John Dunn - The Times Higher Education Supplement

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Williams, Bernard
Published by Collins / Fontana press
ISBN 10: 0001971719 ISBN 13: 9780001971714
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Book Description Collins / Fontana press. Book Condition: Acceptable. Used - Acceptable. Sticker on cover. Ex-library with wear - may contain significant amounts of highlighting and underlining in pen or pencil. Bookseller Inventory # Z1-Q-036-02197

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WILLIAMS, Bernard (1929-2003):
Published by London: Fontana Press/Collins, 1985. (1985)
ISBN 10: 0001971719 ISBN 13: 9780001971714
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Book Description London: Fontana Press/Collins, 1985., 1985. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Fine. 1st Edition. True First Edition (published in America the same year by Harvard University Press). 5 leaves, 230 pp. Original cloth. Small amount of spotty staining to upper portion of vertical edge of pages, else Near Fine, in very good+ dust jacket (unclipped). The Harvard clothbound edition is uncommon, yet this Collins true First is even less so. 'By the time of his death in 2003, Bernard Williams was one of the greatest philosophers of his generation. Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy is not only widely acknowledged to be his most important book, but also hailed a contemporary classic of moral philosophy. Presenting a sustained critique of moral theory from Kant onwards, Williams reorients ethical theory towards 'truth, truthfulness and the meaning of an individual life'. He explores and reflects upon the most difficult problems in contemporary philosophy and identifies new ideas about central issues such as relativism, objectivity and the possibility of ethical knowledge' (Web site of Routledge, which reprinted the book in paperback in 2006). 'In 1979 Williams . . . was elected Provost of King's College, Cambridge, staying there until 1987, when he left Britain for Berkeley in protest at the impact of the Thatcher government's policies on British universities. These policies had not stopped him from publishing, in 1985, the book that offers the most unified and sustained presentation of what Williams had to say about ethics and human life: Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy' (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). 'In this book Bernard Williams delivers a sustained indictment of moral theory from Kant onward. His goal is nothing less than to reorient ethics toward the individual. He deals with the most thorny questions in contemporary philosophy and offers new ideas about issues such as relativism, objectivity, and the possibility of ethical knowledge' (Harvard University Press Web site). 'One of his greatest contributions to moral philosophy, the notion of internal and external reasons, is (as he complained) much misunderstood. So is the treatment, in Ethics And The Limits Of Philosophy, of the vexed issue of whether ethics is objective, which is often taken for simple moral scepticism. In this, his greatest book, Williams argued that fact-resembling, 'thick' ethical concepts ('courage' or 'cruelty', say, as opposed to a 'thin' ethical concept like 'good') were so much part of the world picture of traditional societies as to count as 'pieces of knowledge'. But, he said, reflection and theory, by showing them to be ungrounded in scientific fact, have diminished the 'confidence' that once made them so. Thus 'there is knowledge that can be lost, but not by its being forgotten', knowledge that one society cannot share with a society that is historically or culturally remote' (Jane O'Grady, obituary, The Guardian, Friday June 13 2003). Bookseller Inventory # 17946

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