Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 48, 2023

Stephen Marrone
Pages 113-132

Integrity, Genericity, and the Limits of Reasons

This paper offers a new interpretation of Bernard Williams’s infamous claim that the demands of morality violate our integrity. It begins by showing how Williams’s critique targets an underexplored demand for genericity in moral philosophy. It then argues that while this demand is currently a foundational methodological commitment in moral theorizing, it cannot always be met without distorting the very values that theorizing intends to accommodate. Through careful consideration of the importance of practical experience for appreciating the value of ground projects like human relationships, the paper reinterprets the integrity objection as a radical pushback against the way moral philosophy, by and large, represents the phenomenology of personal valuing. This conclusion offers two contributions. First, it reimagines a significant and yet poorly understood implication of Williams’s argument. Second, it raises a new challenge in an old debate: does moral philosophy fairly represent the values it purports to be about?