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Bernard Williams

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Sir Bernard Arthur Owen Williams (21 September 1929 – 10 June 2003) was an English moral philosopher, described by The Times as the most brilliant and most important British moral philosopher of his time. His publications include Problems of the Self (1973), Moral Luck (1981), Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (1985), and Truth and Truthfulness (2002). He was knighted in 1999.

As Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and Deutsch Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, Williams became known internationally for his attempt to reorient the study of moral philosophy to history and culture, politics and psychology, and in particular to the Greeks. Described as an analytic philosopher with the soul of a humanist, he saw himself as a synthesist, drawing together ideas from fields that seemed increasingly unable to communicate with one another. He rejected scientism, and scientific or evolutionary reductionism, calling "morally unimaginative" reductionists "the people I really do dislike." For Williams, complexity was irreducible, beautiful, and meaningful.


1.) "While Shirley was (and is) a devout Catholic and so took the marriage as a commitment for eternity, Bernard, an atheist, had not done so when he made the wedding vows. Shirley says: "The Church and Bernard had a wonderful time debating all this. The theologians were so thrilled to be discussing it with a leading philosopher." " Stuart Jeffries, 'Profile: Bernard Williams', The Guardian, November 30, 2002, Saturday Review, Pg. 20.