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Profile: Garrath Williams (Lancaster University)
  1. Garrath Williams (2015). Disclosure and Responsibility in Arendt’s The Human Condition. European Journal of Political Theory 14 (1):37-54.
    Hannah Arendt is one of the few philosophers to examine the dynamics of political action at length. Intriguingly, she emphasises the disclosure of who the actor is as a specific distinction of political action. This emphasis is connected with some long-standing worries about Arendt’s account that centre on its apparent unconcern for political responsibility. In this paper, I argue that Arendt’s emphasis on disclosure actually harbours a profound concern with responsibility. I do so by examining three questions. The main part (...)
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  2. Kristin Voigt, Stuart G. Nicholls & Garrath Williams (2014). Childhood Obesity: Ethical and Policy Issues. Oxford University Press.
    Childhood obesity has become a central concern in many countries and a range of policies have been implemented or proposed to address it. This co-authored book is the first to focus on the ethical and policy questions raised by childhood obesity and its prevention. -/- Throughout the book, the authors emphasize that childhood obesity is a multi-faceted phenomenon, and just one of many issues that parents, schools and societies face. They argue that it is important to acknowledge the resulting complexities (...)
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  3. Garrath Williams (2014). Timeliness, Relevance, Freedom: On Steve Buckler’s Reading of Hannah Arendt. European Journal of Political Theory 13 (3):366-371.
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  4. Garrath Williams (2013). Sharing Responsibility and Holding Responsible. Journal of Applied Philosophy 30 (4):351-364.
    Who, in particular, may hold us responsible for our moral failings? Most discussions of moral responsibility bracket this question, despite its obvious practical importance. In this article, I investigate the moral authority involved and how it arises in the context of personal relationships, such as friendship or family relations. My account is based on the idea that parties to a personal relationship not only share responsibility for their relationship, but also — to some degree that is negotiated between them — (...)
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  5. Garrath Williams (2012). Between Ethics and Right: Kantian Politics and Democratic Purposes. European Journal of Philosophy 20 (3):479-486.
    Arthur Ripstein's book Force and Freedom insists that, ‘Freedom, understood as independence of another person's choice, is [all] that matters’. In this paper I suggest that this premise leads Ripstein to an instrumentalization of democracy that neglects a properly public and collective notion of freedom. The paper first criticizes Ripstein's key argument against any extension of public purposes beyond the upholding of persons’ ‘independence of others’ choice’. More constructively, the paper then suggests that a space of public freedom is opened (...)
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  6. Garrath Williams (2012). Children as Means and Ends in Large-Scale Medical Research. Bioethics 26 (8):422-430.
    This paper considers the often-expressed fear that medical research may use children merely as means, and not respect them as ends in themselves – especially insofar as they are deemed less able to consent than adults. The main focus is on large-scale genetic, socio-medical and epidemiological research. The theoretical starting point of the paper is that to be treated as an end in oneself is to be regarded as – and to act as – a participant in cooperative endeavours. This (...)
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  7. Garrath Williams (2012). Gewissen/Moral [Hannah Arendt on Conscience & Morality]. In Wolfgang Heuer, Bernd Heiter & Stefanie Rosenmüller (eds.), Hannah Arendt-Handbuch: Leben - Werk - Wirkung. Metzler Verlag.
    Discusses the different senses of morality in Hannah Arendt's work, and her understanding of conscience.
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  8. Garrath Williams (2012). Verantwortung [Hannah Arendt on Responsibility]. In Wolfgang Heuer, Bernd Heiter & Stefanie Rosenmüller (eds.), Hannah Arendt-Handbuch: Leben - Werk - Wirkung. Metzler Verlag.
    Discusses different aspects of responsibility in Hannah Arendt's works.
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  9. Garrath Williams, The Power of the People. Hannah Arendt Center 'Quote of the Week'.
    A brief discussion of means and ends in Arendt's political theory, which considers the following quotation from Arendt's essay, 'What is freedom?': "Political institutions, no matter how well or badly designed, depend for continued existence upon acting men; their conservation is achieved by the same means that brought them into being. Independent existence marks the work of art as a product of making; utter dependence upon further acts to keep it in existence marks the state as a product of action.".
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  10. Garrath Williams & Ruth Chadwick (2012). Responsibilities for Healthcare. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 21 (02):155-165.
    This paper explores some ways in which Immanuel Kant’s ethical theory can be brought to bear on professional and health care ethics. Health care professionals are not mere individuals acting upon their own ends. Rather, their principles of action must be defined in terms of participation in a cooperative endeavor. This generates complex questions as to how well their roles mesh with one another and whether they comprise a well-formed collective agent. We argue that Kant’s ethics therefore, and perhaps surprisingly, (...)
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  11. Dita Wickins-Drazilova & Garrath Williams (2011). Childhood Obesity: Ethics and Public Policy. In Luis Moreno, Iris Pigeot & Wolfgang Ahrens (eds.), Epidemiology of Obesity in Children and Adolescents.
    Ethical reflections help us decide what are the best actions to pursue in difficult and controversial situations. Reflections on public policy consider how to alter patterns of individual activity and institutional policies or frameworks for the better. The rising prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity may pose serious health issues. As such, it is related to ethical and public policy questions including responsibility for health, food production and consumption, patterns of physical activity, the role of the state, and the rights (...)
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  12. Dita Wickins-Drazilova & Garrath Williams (2011). Ethics and Public Policy. In Luis Moreno, Iris Pigeot & Wolfgang Ahrens (eds.), Epidemiology of Obesity in Children and Adolescents. Springer Science+Business Media. 7--20.
    Ethical reflections help us decide what are the best actions to pursue in difficult and controversial situations. Reflections on public policy consider how to alter patterns of individual activity and institutional policies or frameworks for the better. The rising prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity may pose serious health issues. As such, it is related to ethical and public policy questions including responsibility for health, food production and consumption, patterns of physical activity, the role of the state, and the rights (...)
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  13. Dita Wickins-Drazilova & Garrath Williams (2011). The Ethics of Evaluating Obesity Intervention Studies on Children. International Journal of Obesity 35 (supplement):S24-S29.
    The methodology of the IDEFICS (Identification and prevention of dietary- and lifestyle-induced health effects in children and infants) study raises a number of important ethical questions. Many of these are already well recognised in ethical guidelines that uphold principles of individual and parental consent, confidentiality and scientific review. There are, however, wider issues that require ethical reflection. In this paper, we focus on a set of problems surrounding the evaluation of complex social interventions, and argue that comprehensive and objective evaluation (...)
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  14. Garrath Williams (2011). Hannah Arendt on Power. In Keith Dowding (ed.), Encyclopedia of Power. Sage.
    Hannah Arendt’s (1906-1975) conception of power is entirely distinctive. It is rooted in a political philosophy that celebrates the public realm of freedom that emerges when people act with others as citizens or political equals. For Arendt, power is actualized where people act together to sustain or to change the world they share with one another. Her fundamental claim is this: ‘Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property (...)
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  15. Garrath Williams (2011). 'Intelligible Facts':Toward a Constructivist Account of Action and Responsibility. In Sorin Baiasu, Sami Pihlstrom & Howard Williams (eds.), Politics and Metaphysics in Kant. University of Wales Press.
    This paper interprets facts about actions and responsibility in terms of Kant’s category of the ‘intelligible,’ but is also broadly naturalistic in its approach. It analyses intelligible facts in terms of two elements, the institutional and the normative. First, I draw on John Searle’s account of institutional facts. Searle emphasises that neither the meaning of a word nor my possession of something is a matter of empirical facts concerning the entity itself. Instead, to understand the nature of such facts, we (...)
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  16. Garrath Williams, Moral Responsibility. Oxford Bibliographies Online.
    [Bibliographic article focussing on compatibilist approaches to responsibility.] Moral responsibility relates to many significant topics in ethics and metaphysics, such as the content and scope of moral obligations, the nature of human agency, and the structure of human interaction. This entry focuses on compatibilist approaches to moral responsibility—that is, approaches that see moral responsibility as compatible with the causal order of the world. This is partly because they have more to say about the nature of moral responsibility and the practices (...)
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  17. Garrath Williams (2010). 'Who Are We to Judge?' – On the Proportionment of Happiness to Virtue. Philosophy 85 (1):47-66.
    The claim that happiness and virtue ought to be proportionate to one another has often been expressed in the idea of a future world of divine justice, despite many moral difficulties with this idea. This paper argues that human efforts to enact such a proportionment are, ironically, justified by the same reasons that make the idea of divine justice seem so problematic. Moralists have often regarded our frailty and fallibility as reasons for abstaining from the judgment of others; and doubts (...)
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  18. Garrath Williams, Kant's Account of Reason. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Two of the most prominent questions in Kant's critical philosophy concern reason. The first, central to his theoretical philosophy, is the unprovable pretensions of reason in earlier “rationalist” philosophers, especially Leibniz and Descartes. The second, central to his practical philosophy, is the subservient role accorded to reason by the British empiricists—above all Hume, who declared, “Reason is wholly inactive, and can never be the source of so active a principle as conscience, or a sense of morals.” Treatise, 3.1.1.11; see also (...)
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  19. Garrath Williams (2008). Dangerous Victims: On Some Political Dangers of Vicarious Claims to Victimhood. Distinktion - Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory 17:77-95.
    As we have seen in the cases of Serbia and Israel, collectives can be mobilised to perpetrate grave wrongs on the basis of patently ideological claims about the harms they have suffered. This article seeks a theoretical understanding of this troubling phenomenon. It does so, first, by contrasting mobilisation based on vicarious victimhood with revenge. The groups in question do not exhibit the contact with reality and clear sense of agency that are prerequisites for revenge. However, these evasions of agency (...)
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  20. Garrath Williams (2008). Responsibility as a Virtue. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (4):455 - 470.
    Philosophers usually discuss responsibility in terms of responsibility for past actions or as a question about the nature of moral agency. Yet the word responsibility is fairly modern, whereas these topics arguably represent timeless concerns about human agency. This paper investigates another use of responsibility, that is particularly important to modern liberal societies: responsibility as a virtue that can be demonstrated by individuals and organisations. The paper notes its initial importance in political contexts, and seeks to explain why we now (...)
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  21. Garrath Williams (2007). Ethics and Human Relationality: Between Arendt's Accounts of Morality. HannahArendt.Net 3.
    This paper considers a short quotation from near the beginnings of Arendt’s Denktagebuch, dated to August 1950. This epigrammatic formulation presages Arendt’s whole political theory, by situating the political outside of the individual, in-between a plurality of human beings. My concern, however, is not with politics as such. Instead, I ask: cannot what Arendt says of politics be said with equal truth of morality? To make some attempt upon this vast question, I examine Arendt’s own more tentative explorations of the (...)
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  22. Garrath Williams (2007). Judges in Our Own Case: Kantian Legislation and Responsibility Attribution. Politics and Ethics Review [Now Retitled as Journal of International Political Theory] 3 (1):8-23.
    This paper looks at the attribution of moral responsibility in the light of Kant's claim that the maxims of our actions should be universalizable. Assuming that it is often difficult for us to judge which actions satisfy this test, it suggests one way of translating Kantian morality into practice. Suppose that it is possible to read each action, via its maxim, as a communication addressed to the world: as an attempt to set the terms on which we should interact with (...)
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  23. Garrath Williams (ed.) (2006). Hannah Arendt: Critical Assessments of Leading Political Philosophers. Routledge.
    Hannah Arendt is increasingly recognised as one of the most important political thinkers of the twentieth century. She gained fame for her historical study of totalitarianism, notoriety for her reportage of Adolf Eichman’s trial, and philosophical recognition for her explorations of (political) action and her critique of the Western tradition of political thought from Plato to Marx. As such, she is likely to be the first woman to join the canon of the great philosophers. Arendt’s work has attracted a huge (...)
     
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  24. Garrath Williams (2006). 'Infrastructures of Responsibility': The Moral Tasks of Institutions. Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (2):207–221.
    The members of any functioning modern society live their lives amid complex networks of overlapping institutions. Apart from the major political institutions of law and government, however, much normative political theory seems to regard this institutional fabric as largely a pragmatic convenience. This paper contests this assumption by reflecting on how institutions both constrain and enable spheres of effective action and responsibility. In this way a society’s institutional fabric constitutes, in Samuel Scheffler’s phrase, an infrastructure of responsibility. The paper discusses (...)
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  25. Garrath Williams, Responsibility. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    We evaluate people and groups as responsible or not, depending on how seriously they take their responsibilities. Often we do this informally, via moral judgment. Sometimes we do this formally, for instance in legal judgment. This article considers mainly moral responsibility, and focuses largely upon individuals. Later sections also comment on the relation between legal and moral responsibility, and on the responsibility of collectives.
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  26. Garrath Williams (2005). Bioethics and Large-Scale Biobanking: Individualistic Ethics and Collective Projects. Genomics, Society and Policy 1 (2):50-66.
    Like most bioethical discussion, examination of human biobanks has been largely framed in terms of research subjects’ rights, principally informed consent, with some gestures toward public benefits. However, informed consent is for the competent, rights-bearing individual: focussing on the individual, it thus neglects social, economic and even political matters; focussing on the competent rights-bearer, it does not serve situations where consent is plainly inappropriate (eg, the young child) or where coercion can obviously be justified (the criminal). Using the British experience (...)
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  27. Garrath Williams (2005). Geoffrey Vickers: Philosopher of Responsibility. Systems Research and Behavioral Science 22 (4):291-8.
    In this article I discuss Geoffrey Vickers’ ideas from the perspective of moral and political philosophy. His thought is presented through three key terms, which I suggest can encapsulate his philosophy: (i) our human capacity to respond aptly to our situation; (ii) the analysis of modern society in terms of institutions; and (iii) the moral importance of responsibility to the maintenance of human culture and cooperation.
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  28. Garrath Williams (ed.) (2005). Hannah Arendt: Critical Assessments of Leading Political Philosophers. Routledge.
    Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) is likely to be the first woman to join the canon of the great philosophers. Arendt's work has attracted a huge volume of scholarship. This collection reprints papers from the USA, Germany, France and the UK, where further scholarly work is emerging at an increasing pace. Given that there was vigorous debate of her work in her lifetime, that there have since been several waves of evaluation and re-evaluation, and because a new generation of scholars is now (...)
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  29. Garrath Williams (2005). Monomaniacs or Schizophrenics? Responsible Governance and the EU's Independent Agencies. Political Studies 53 (1):82-99.
    This paper examines the creation of independent agencies within the EU, such as the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Central Bank (ECB). Majone and others have argued the case for European regulatory agencies. Such agencies can provide for continuity, expertise, accountability and effective authority – in short, an institutionalisation of responsibility. Against this optimism, I argue that a dilemma of institutional design naturally arises from the agencies’ situation in the EU. On the one side, we risk creating powerful (...)
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  30. Mairi Levitt & Garrath Williams (2004). Ethical Issues [in Social Measurement]: An Overview. In Kimberly Kempf-Leonard (ed.), Encyclopedia of Social Measurement. Elsevier.
    Ethical issues surrounding research are complex and multifaceted. There are issues concerning: the methods used, the intended purpose, the foreseen and unforeseen effects, the use and dissemination of findings, and, not least, what is and what fails to be researched. - In this article we break down the issues into two main categories: (I) how the research itself is done; and (II) how it is determined by and in turn affects a wider context. In the first section we discuss familiar (...)
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  31. Garrath Williams (2004). Interpreting Modern Political Philosophy: From Machiavelli to Marx [Review of Book]. [REVIEW] Contemporary Political Theory 3 (3):348.
  32. Garrath Williams, Praise and Blame. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Joel Feinberg observed that ‘moral responsibility… is a subject about which we are all confused.’ (1970: 37) Perhaps nowhere is this confusion more evident than in our understandings of praise and blame. This entry will contrast three influential philosophical accounts of our everyday practices of praise and blame, in terms of how they might be justified. On the one hand, a broadly Kantian approach sees responsibility for actions as relying on forms of self control that point back to the idea (...)
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  33. Garrath Williams (2004). Two Approaches to Moral Responsibility : Part One. Richmond Journal of Philosophy 6:14-19.
    In this first part of the article, I want to sketch two things. First, I will say something about the idea of free will. The paradoxes involved in this idea often occur to people even before they come to philosophy, and these difficulties will be central to Kant’s account. But second, before turning to Kant, I would like to tackle Aristotle’s broad approach, and show that, before free will was invented by Christian philosophers, there was a quite different way of (...)
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  34. Garrath Williams & Doris Schroeder, Human Genetic Banking:Altruism, Benefit and Consent.
    This article considers how we should frame the ethical issues raised by current proposals for large-scale genebanks with on-going links to medical and lifestyle data, such as the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council's 'UK Biobank'. As recent scandals such as Alder Hey have emphasised, there are complex issues concerning the informed consent of donors that need to be carefully considered. However, we believe that a preoccupation with informed consent obscures important questions about the purposes to which such collections are (...)
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  35. Isabelle Hirtzlin, Christine Dubreuil, Nathalie Préaubert, Jenny Duchier, Brigitte Jansen, Jürgen Simon, Paula Lobatao De Faria, Anna Perez-Lezaun, Bert Visser, Garrath Williams, Anne Cambon-Thomsen & The Eurogenbank Consortium (2003). An Empirical Survey on Biobanking of Human Genetic Material and Data in Six EU Countries. European Journal of Human Genetics 11:475–488.
    Biobanks correspond to different situations: research and technological development, medical diagnosis or therapeutic activities. Their status is not clearly defined. We aimed to investigate human biobanking in Europe, particularly in relation to organisational, economic and ethical issues in various national contexts. Data from a survey in six EU countries (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK) were collected as part of a European Research Project examining human and non-human biobanking (EUROGENBANK, coordinated by Professor JC Galloux). A total of (...)
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  36. Mairi Levitt & Garrath Williams (2003). Thirty Years of Bioethics: All Grown Up Now? New Review of Bioethics 1 (1):3-5.
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  37. Garrath Williams (2003). Blame and Responsibility. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 6 (4):427-445.
    This paper looks at judgments of guilt in the face of alleged wrong-doing, be it in public or in private discourse. Its concern is not the truth of such judgments, although the complexity and contestability of such claims will be stressed. The topic, instead, is what sort of activities we are engaged in, when we make our judgments on others' conduct. To examine judging as an activity it focuses on a series of problems that can occur when we blame others. (...)
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  38. Garrath Williams, Hobbes: Moral and Political Philosophy. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This encyclopedia entry surveys the moral and political thought of the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). Hobbes's vision of the world is strikingly original and still relevant to contemporary politics. His main concern is the problem of social and political order: how human beings can live together in peace and avoid the danger and fear of civil conflict. He poses stark alternatives: we should give our obedience to an unaccountable sovereign (a person or group empowered to decide every social and (...)
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  39. Garrath Williams (2003). Wendy Brown, Politics Out of History [Review of Book]. [REVIEW] Philosophy in Review 23 (6):376-378.
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  40. Doris Schröder & Garrath Williams (2002). DNA-Banken und Treuhandschaft [DNA Banking and Trusteeship]. Ethik in der Medizin 14 (2):84-95.
    Definition of the problem:The frequency and scope of human genetic banking has increased significantly in recent years and is set to expand still further. Two of the major growth areas in medical research, pharmacogenomics and population genetics, rely on large DNA banks to provide extensive, centralised and standardised genetic information as well as clinical and personal data. This development raises ethical concerns. Arguments and conclusion: Our article focuses on the appropriateness of informed consent as a means to safeguard both research (...)
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  41. Garrath Williams (2002). 'No Participation Without Implication': Understanding the Wrongs We Do Together. Res Publica 8 (2):201-210.
    Review article of Christopher Kutz, Complicity: Ethics and Law for a Collective Age (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
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  42. Garrath Williams (2000). Normatively Demanding Creatures: Hobbes, the Fall and Individual Responsibility. Res Publica 6 (3):301-319.
    This paper explores an internal relation between wrong-doing and the ability to think in moral terms, through Hobbes’ thought. I use his neglected retelling of our ‘original sin’ as a springboard, seeing how we then discover a need to vindicate our own projects in terms shared by others. We become normatively demanding creatures: greedy for normative vindication, eager to judge others amid the difficulties of our world. However there is, of course, no choice for us but to choose our (...)
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  43. Garrath Williams (1999). Kant and the Question of Meaning. Philosophical Forum 30 (2):115–131.
    This paper discusses Kant’s problematic attempts to come to grips with the question of meaning. The first section sets out the problem as Kant discovers it, under the idea of a ‘Categorical Imperative.’ The second looks directly at his thoughts on the question of meaning, in connection with individual dignity, personal fulfilment and hope for our common future. Third, I examine inadequacies in Kant’s account, while the fourth part suggests that these arise through a lack of faith in the practical (...)
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  44. Garrath Williams (1999). Nietzsche's Response to Kant's Morality. Philosophical Forum 30 (3):201–216.
    Although commentators sometimes mention a link between Kant and Nietzsche, this paper claims that the continuities in their moral thought have been insufficiently explored. I argue that Nietzsche may offer us a profound rethinking of Kant’s morality – one indebted to Kant’s ideal of critique. The paper first considers the wide apparent gulf between the thinkers. The second section seeks to explain this gulf in terms which relate to Kant’s overall project, while the final section deals with Nietzsche’s critique of (...)
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  45. Garrath Williams (1998). Love and Responsibility: A Political Ethic for Hannah Arendt. Political Studies 46 (5):937-950.
    This paper argues that those critics of Hannah Arendt's thought who have protested at her disavowal of ‘moral standards’ as being appropriate in the judgment of political action have, in fact, misjudged the structure of her thought. My argument is, however, a constructive one: the paper seeks to demonstrate how Arendt arrives at her sweeping rejection of conventional standards of moral judgment, and what solution she proposes. I do this in three stages. First, I address Arendt's understanding of self as (...)
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