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Moral Competence and Bernard Williams

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2006

Abigail L. Rosenthal
Brooklyn College of The City University of New York


More than twenty years ago the late Bernard Williams published a paper under the oxymoronic title of ‘Moral Luck’, which claimed that chance shapes moral standing, and that moral standing, like social or professional standing, has its winners and losers, successes and failures. Williams’ final book, Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy, offered as a ‘fiction’ a sociobiological genealogy of moral standing, and worked to free some of the virtues associated with it—such as integrity, Accuracy, and Sincerity—from the taint of these presumed primitive origins. Whatever the proceeds of this exercise in saving reductionism from itself, it seemed that ‘moral luck’—the earlier category—had come through it essentially undamaged.

Research Article
2006 The Royal Institute of Philosophy

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