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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Luck, morality, and the meaning of life Cheung, Pui Kei Eleanor


The main objective of Luck, Morality, and the Meaning of Life is to defend the Kantian version of impartial morality from Bernard Williams' critiques. The thesis begins by exploring the problems luck presents to us. Various philosophical methods which deal with those problems are discussed. The Kantian version of impartial morality is chosen because it not only intends to offer methods that help us transcend the problems luck presents in morality, but also aspires to ultimate justice by urging people to pursue the best good, namely, to be moral, which is open to all. Several of Williams' arguments against impartial morality are then discussed and evaluated. His arguments can be divided into two main streams: (i) the ground project thesis, and (ii) the arguments that resist changes. I believe these arguments try to serve Williams two objectives: (i) impartial morality is argued to be flawed and unfeasible, and (ii) Individualism is advocated. I show that none of Williams' arguments can refute the theory of impartial morality, nevertheless, some of its non-fatal flaws are exposed. I then discuss the Individualistic motive in Williams' arguments. I try to determine whether Williams's Individualistic world is feasible and appealing by considering the issue of adultery as a test case, and by comparing his world with the Kantian one. Williams' world is found to be unstable if his Individualism is universally applied. There is evidence which shows that Williams endorses some form of elitism, and this is perhaps the only way for his world to be feasible, nevertheless, unappealing.

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