In a strikingly original and provocative body of work, the British philosopher Bernard Williams argued that traditional approaches to moral philosophy entailed a badly distorted picture of human life and action. This course will study Williams's critique of these approaches and explore what he thought should replace them. Readings will include, among others, Williams’s books Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy and Shame and Necessity, and his essays on character, personal identity, reasons for action, luck, blame, death, and tragedy.
If only implicitly, people appeal to moral standards all the time: when they think about whether they should eat meat, how much of their energy and resources they should dedicate to improving the world rather than pursuing their passions, or whether someone is being disrespectful or manipulative. This course will explore representative conceptions of the nature and significance of morality, with the aim of enabling students to think critically about what in these conceptions seem right to them.