Contemporary Political Theory

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 77–98

In and out of the ethical: The realist liberalism of Bernard Williams

  • Richard Flathman
Feature Article: Political Theory Revisited


In his later writings, the British philosopher Bernard Williams increasingly turned his attentions to issues concerning practical politics and in political theory. He advanced a moderately sceptical and realist liberalism that features distinctive views concerning the appropriate relations among moral, ethical and political theory, and concerning legitimacy, freedom and equality, and democracy. This article examines these and related features of his thinking and locates them in the context of currently influential formulations of liberalism.


scepticism ethics legitimacy freedom equality human rights democracy liberalism 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Flathman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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