Frank Jackson reviews 'Essays and Reviews 1959-2002' by Bernard Williams

Frank Jackson reviews 'Essays and Reviews 1959-2002' by Bernard Williams

Essays and Reviews 1959–2002

by by Bernard Williams

Princeton University Press (Footprint), $54.95 hb, 456 pp, 9780691159850

Philosophers fear many things, as do economists, lawyers, politicians, and electricians. But there is one thing philosophers fear which is special to their profession. It is the question, asked as it might be at a dinner party or in a taxi on the way to the airport, ‘What is it that you do, exactly?’ with perhaps a somewhat intimidating emphasis on the word ‘exactly’. Often – too often – we philosophers take the easy way out. We reply that questions like: Does God exist? Is there an objective basis to morality? Is a commitment to equality simply a commitment to equality of opportunity? What makes a society a just one? are, we can all agree, important questions, and that they are the kinds of questions philosophers concern themselves with.

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Published in March 2015, no. 369
Frank Jackson

Frank Jackson

Frank Jackson is a fractional professor of philosophy at The Australian National University and a visiting professor at Princeton University. He is the author of books and papers in analytical philosophy, including From Metaphysics to Ethics (1998) and Language, Names, and Information (2010), and is a Corresponding Fellow of The British Academy.

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