Download A Preface to Morality by John Wilson (auth.) PDF

By John Wilson (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0333439929

ISBN-13: 9780333439920

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There remains something to be said about how to do justice to it without abandoning rationality. One suggestion, following Bernard Williams (1981), is to rewrite the absolutist thesis so that it is no longer a thesis about what (in this or that extreme case) one ought to do, but a thesis about what sort of people one wants in the world and what such people would be able to do. Williams attacks the (perhaps straw) target of 'utilitarianism': if the world is to 'contain generous, aff~ctionate, forceful, resolute, creative and actually happy people, you do not wish it to contain people who uniformly think in such a way that their actions will satisfy the requirements of utilitarianism' (p.

We should have to produce some view about what roles or arenas he ought to operate in (though perhaps some are inevitable for him), as in (2) above, and then list the qualities he needs, as in (1). The production of such a view seems to me at present beyond our powers, for the reasons I gave before in reference to the virtues: in particular, because we do not yet know enough about the nature of man or human psychology to be able to go into that much detail. How public or private a life people should lead, whether they should all be husbands and wives if they have the chance, the comparative importance of egalitarian friendship as against having children of one's own, how much personal relationships are to count as against attachment to nature or the arts - these and other questions remain to be answered.

Williams attacks the (perhaps straw) target of 'utilitarianism': if the world is to 'contain generous, aff~ctionate, forceful, resolute, creative and actually happy people, you do not wish it to contain people who uniformly think in such a way that their actions will satisfy the requirements of utilitarianism' (p. 51); because the processes of practical thought take up 'psychological room', and 'there is no reason at all to believe, for many dispositions of the kind that it is desirable to have in the world, that they can retain their position and significance and yet systematically make way, whenever required to, for the deliverances of utilitarian thought' (pp.

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