Bernard Williams

Sir Bernard Arthur Owen Williams FBA (21 September 1929 – 10 June 2003) has been described as the most important British moral philosopher of his time.Williams spent the bulk of his career at four academic institutions: Oxford, Cambridge, University College London, and the University of California, Berkeley. Early in his career at Cambridge, 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 scientific and evolutionary reductionism. For Williams, complexity was beautiful, meaningful, and irreducible.Williams was renowned for being sharp in discussion, with Oxford philosopher Gilbert Ryle once saying of him that he "understands what you're going to say better than you understand it yourself, and sees all the possible objections to it, all the possible answers to all the possible objections, before you've got to the end of your sentence." He also became known as a supporter of women in academia, seeing in women the possibility of that synthesis of reason and emotion that he felt eluded analytic philosophy. The American philosopher Martha Nussbaum said he was "as close to being a feminist as a powerful man of his generation could be."
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