The relativism of blame and Williams's relativism of distance

Abstract
Bernard Williams is a sceptic about the objectivity of moral value, embracing instead a qualified moral relativism—the ‘relativism of distance’. His attitude to blame too is in part sceptical (he thought it often involved a certain ‘fantasy’). I will argue that the relativism of distance is unconvincing, even incoherent; but also that it is detachable from the rest of Williams's moral philosophy. I will then go on to propose an entirely localized thesis I call the relativism of blame, which says that when an agent's moral shortcomings by our lights are a matter of their living according to the moral thinking of their day, judgements of blame are out of order. Finally, I will propose a form of moral judgement we may sometimes quite properly direct towards historically distant agents when blame is inappropriate—moral-epistemic disappointment. Together these two proposals may help release us from the grip of the idea that moral appraisal always involves the potential applicability of blame, and so from a key source of the relativist idea that moral appraisal is inappropriate over distance
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References found in this work BETA
Gilbert Harman (1975). Moral Relativism Defended. Philosophical Review 84 (1):3-22.
Pamela Hieronymi (2004). The Force and Fairness of Blame. Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):115–148.
Gideon Rosen (2002). Culpability and Ignorance. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 103 (1):61–84.

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