Practical necessity in Bernard Williams's virtue ethics
MetadataShow full item record
In this dissertation, I argue that Bernard Williams offers a system of virtue ethics based on his conception of practical necessity. In my exposition, Williams reveals the primacy of virtues in ethical life through showing that virtues are both sufficient and necessary for an agent to have a practical necessity to do a matching ethical action. Also, I present and defend Williams's conception of moral incapacity, which is generated by practical necessity to do an ethical action. In my explication, Williams's conception of moral incapacity helps us to clarify some key issues in virtue ethics, such as the unity of virtues, the conflicts of virtues and the Aristotelian ideal deliberator model. In order to show that Williams's virtue ethics is better than its two rivals, that is, the Kantian moral philosophy and utilitarianism, I reveal that Williams's conception of practical necessity does not bring him the problems disturbing both of them with respect to practical necessity. These problems are the conflicts problem, the domination problem, the justification problem, and the integrity problem. For the purpose of supporting the idea that only virtues can give an agent reason to have an ethical practical necessity, I present Williams's account of internal reasons and defend his account from the criticisms. Finally, I examine the impact of Williams's virtue ethics on his positions on metaethics concerning ethical objectivity, ethical conviction, and ethical justification.