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Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy

Bernard Williams (Harvard University Press: March 1986), 244 pages.

Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy is widely acknowledged to be Bernard Williams’ most important book and a contemporary classic of moral philosophy. Delivering a sustained critique of moral theory from Kant onward, Williams reorients ethical theory towards "truth, truthfulness and the meaning of an individual life." He explores and reflects on the thorniest problems in contemporary philosophy and offers new ideas about central issues such as relativism, objectivity and the possibility of ethical knowledge. This edition includes a new commentary on the text by A.W. Moore, St.Hugh’s College, Oxford. By the time of his death in 2003, Bernard Williams was one of the greatest philosophers of his generation. He taught at the Universities of Cambridge, Berkeley and Oxford. He is the author of Morality; Utilitarianism: For and Against; Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry and Truth and Truthfulness.

Table of Contents

    • 1. Socrates’ Question
    • 2. The Archimedean Point
    • 3. Foundations: Well-Being
    • 4. Foundations: Practical Reason
    • 5. Styles of Ethical Theory
    • 6. Theory and Prejudice
    • 7. The Linguistic Turn
    • 8. Knowledge, Science, Convergence
    • 9. Relativism and Reflection
    • 10. Morality, the Peculiar Institution
    • Postscript
    • Notes
    • Index