In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political
Argument. Collected essays by Bernard Williams, edited by Geoffrey
Hawthorn. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005. 196p.
As the editor reminds us, until the early eighties Bernard
Williams's very strong reputation was primarily as a moral
philosopher (albeit he also contributed valuable work in epistemology). It
was clear, however, that his views had important implications for politics
and political theory (no more so than in the superb essay “The Idea
of Equality,” the one earlier essay reprinted in this collection).
And beginning in the eighties, perhaps influenced by his friendship with
Isaiah Berlin and the influence of the latter upon his thinking, Williams
focused his thinking increasingly both on quite practical politics and on
major issues in political theory. His interest in moral questions never
waned, but his reflections concerning them almost always made connections
to political and/or political theoretical issues.