In TheMorality of Everyday Life, Thomas Fleming offers an alternative to the enlightened liberalism espoused by thinkers as different as Kant, Mill, Rand, and Rawls. Philosophers in the liberal tradition, although they disagree on many important questions, agree that moral and political problems should be looked at from an objective point of view and a decision made from a rational perspective that is universally applied to all comparable cases.
Fleming instead places importance on the particular, the local, and moral complexity. He advocates a return to premodern traditions, such as those exemplified in the texts of Aristotle, the Talmud, and the folk wisdom in ancient Greek literature, for a solution to ethical predicaments. In his view, liberalism and postmodernism ignore the fact that human beings by their very nature refuse to live in a world of universal abstractions.
While such modern philosophers as Kant and Kohlberg have regarded a mother’s self-sacrificing love for her children as beneath their level of morality, folk wisdom tells us it is nearly the highest morality, taking precedence over the duties of citizenship or the claims of humanity. Fleming believes that a modern type of “casuistry” should be applied to these moral conflicts in which the line between right and wrong is rarely clear.
This volume will appeal to students of ethics and classics, as well as the general educated reader, who will appreciate Fleming’s jargon-free prose. Teachers will find this text useful because each chapter is a self-contained essay that could be used as the basis for classroom discussion.