Ideas from 'Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy' by Bernard Williams [1985], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy' by Williams,Bernard [Fontana 1985,0-00-686001-x]].

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13. Knowledge Criteria / E. Relativism / 6. Relativism Critique
Our ability to react to an alien culture shows that ethical thought extends beyond cultural boundaries
It is very confused to deduce a nonrelativist morality of universal toleration from relativism
22. Metaethics / B. Basis of Ethics / 2. Moral Theory
Philosophers try to produce ethical theories because they falsely assume that ethics can be simple
22. Metaethics / B. Basis of Ethics / 4. Is/Ought
Some ethical ideas, such as 'treachery' and 'promise', seem to express a union of facts and values
22. Metaethics / B. Basis of Ethics / 7. Moral Motives
Plato found that he could only enforce rational moral justification by creating an authoritarian society
22. Metaethics / C. Sources of Ethics / 2. Human Nature
The category of person is a weak basis for ethics, because it is not fixed but comes in degrees
22. Metaethics / C. Sources of Ethics / 3. Intuitionism
Intuitionism has been demolished by critics, and no longer looks interesting
22. Metaethics / C. Sources of Ethics / 5. Prescriptivism
The weakness of prescriptivism is shown by "I simply don't like staying at good hotels"
22. Metaethics / D. Consequentialism / 1. Consequentialism
It is an error of consequentialism to think we just aim at certain states of affairs; we also want to act
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 3. Promise Keeping
Promise keeping increases reliability, by making deliberation focus on something which would be overlooked
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 5. Free Rider
A weakness of contractual theories is the position of a person of superior ability and power
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / c. Motivation for virtue
A crucial feature of moral thought is second-order desire - the desire to have certain desires
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 1. Deontology
'Deon' in Greek means what one must do; there was no word meaning 'duty'
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 2. Duty
The concept of a 'duty to myself' is fraudulent
Not all moral deliberations lead to obligations; some merely reveal what 'may' be done
"Ought implies can" is a famous formula in connection with moral obligation
Obligation and duty look backwards (because of a promise or job), although the acts are in the future
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 3. Universalisability
Why should I think of myself as both the legislator and the citizen who follows the laws?
If the self becomes completely impartial, it no longer has enough identity to worry about its interests
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 3. Motivation for Altruism
Utilitarian benevolence involves no particular attachments, and is immune to the inverse square law
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 1. Existentialism
Ethical conviction must be to some extent passive, and can't just depend on the will and decisions
We can't cure ethical uncertainty by taking responsibility for decisions; we are uncertain what to decide
24. Applied Ethics / B. Moral Rights / 3. Animal Rights
Speciesism isn't like racism, because the former implies a viewpoint which belongs to no one
24. Applied Ethics / C. Death Issues / 3. Abortion
Most women see an early miscarriage and a late stillbirth as being very different in character
25. Society / E. State Functions / 5. Education / b. Aims of education
It is a mark of our having ethical values that we aim to reproduce them in our children