Date of Thesis

2011

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Jeffrey Turner

Abstract

Philosophers and laymen alike have often used morality to invite misconceptions of human life into ethics, and also of ethics into human life. The Kant/Williams discourse provides a rich backdrop on which to consider these misconceptions. But the misconceptionsof morality involved are just as numerous and just as serious. One thing that the Kant/Williams discourse shows is this: that ethics can be neither contained by nor cultivated without morality. Though much of Williams’ critique of Kantian morality is quite astute, thephilosophical and ethical wisdoms of morality abound in spite of these. Morality understands the fundamental condition of moral loss, and the sometimes irreducible quandaries that this condition places human beings in. It understands the nature of the moral law, and theintricacies that the levels of letter and spirit invite into human life. Perhaps more importantly, it understands the uncompromising relationship between moral loss and moral law, and how the human navigation of this relationship leads into the ethical realm via giving rise to ethical conviction. Finally, for all of its pressures, morality abounds in valuable wisdoms for the one discovering that the human soul occupies a place of ethical significance in the world. It is responsible for pointing out, grounding and providing a framework for some of the most fundamental truths about the world and human beings; and these are essential to any viable ethical theory and sensible conception of human life.

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