Impartial Morality and Practical Deliberation as First-Personal

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Bernard Williams questioned whether impartial morality “can allow for the importance of individual character and personal relations in moral experience.” Underlying his position is a distinction between factual and practical deliberation. While factual deliberation is about the world and brings in a standpoint that is impartial, practical deliberation is, he claims, radically first-personal; it “involves an I that [is] intimately the I of my desires.” While it may be thought that Williams's claim implies an unpalatable Humean subjectivism, the present article argues that this does not follow: That first-person practical deliberation is directed both by the “I of my desires” and by the world. Drawing on Peter Winch's argument against the universalizability of moral judgments and D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, the article argues that practical deliberations involve discovering value in the world, but that what is revealed about the world depends constitutively on the first-person deliberations and decisions of particular agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-473
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • impartial morality
  • practical deliberation
  • factual deliberation
  • character
  • universalizability


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