Bernard Williams on Sidgwick and the ambitions of ethics

My own view is that no ethical theory can render a coherent account of its own relation to practice: it will always run into some version of the fundamental difficulty that the practice of life, and hence also an adequate theory of that practice, will require the recognition of what I have called deep dispositions; but at the same time the abstract and impersonal view that is required if the theory is to be genuinely a theory cannot be satisfactorily understood in relation to the depth and necessity of those dispositions. Thus the theory will remain, in one way or another, in an incoherent relation to practice.

Making Sense of Humanity (1995), The point of view of the universe: Sidgwick and the Ambitions of Ethics”

February 8, 2022