Did the Gulf War defend moral principle or Western oil interests? Is violent pornography an act of free speech or an act of violence against women? In Casuistry and Modern Ethics, Richard B. Miller sheds new light on the potential of casuistry—case-based reasoning—for resolving these and other questions of conscience raised by the practical quandaries of modern life.
Rejecting the packaging of moral experience within simple descriptions and inflexible principles, Miller argues instead for identifying and making sense of the ethically salient features of individual cases. Because this practical approach must cope with a diverse array of experiences, Miller draws on a wide variety of diagnostic tools from such fields as philosophy of science, legal reasoning, theology, literary theory, hermeneutics, and moral philosophy.
Opening new avenues for practical reasoning, Miller's interdisciplinary work will challenge scholars who are interested in the intersections of ethics and political philosophy, cultural criticism, and debates about method in religion and morality.
Gustaaf Van Cromphout University of Missouri Press, 1999 Library of Congress PS1642.E8V36 1999 | Dewey Decimal 814.3
Everyone knows that Emerson was a moralist, but what does that really mean? In an attempt to answer that question, Gustaaf Van Cromphout provides in Emerson's Ethics a detailed and philosophically grounded discussion of Emerson's moral thought. In this first comprehensive study of Emerson's ethics in the broader context of ethical theory, Van Cromphout explores Emerson's answers to what he considered the basic question facing any thinking human being: "How should I live?"
Van Cromphout begins by examining Emerson's college essays on ethics—essays that reflect his response to the moral thought prevailing in his intellectual environment. He then discusses the mature Emerson's attempt to establish ethics on a surer foundation than the religion inherited from his forebears, showing that Emerson was influenced significantly by Kant's moral thought.
He goes on to examine Emerson's search for a morally competent self in an age when the very notion of "self" was under serious threat. The ethical dimension of Emerson's politics and his theories of friendship and love, as well as the quest for a life worth living in the modern world, are also addressed. The last chapters are devoted to nature and literature. Van Cromphout explores Emerson's understanding of nature as a focus of ethical responsibility, and he examines the corruptibility of language, the ethics of self- expression, and the moral responsibilities of writers toward their audiences. Emerson believed that ethics permeated every aspect of human life. By examining Emerson's understanding of ethics and his contribution to ethical thought, Emerson's Ethics shows one of the truly great minds in American culture confronting issues of fundamental relevance to all human beings. Filling an important gap in Emerson studies, this book will appeal not only to readers interested in Emerson and his significance in American thought and literature but also to readers concerned with ethics and, more generally, with the interrelations of literature and philosophy.
In this book, William O'Neill, SJ, offers an interpretation of the nature and scope of practical reasoning in light of postmodern philosophical criticism. He charts a via media between the abstract formalism of neo-Kantian morality and relativist interpretations of neo-Aristotelian ethics.
The three parts of the book treat the eclipse of the classical Aristotelian conception of practical reason; the Kantian heritage in the modern moral theories of John Rawls and R.M. Hare; and the hermeneutical retrieval of a moral interpretation of the world. Drawing upon the philosophical hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer, modern analytical philosophy, and the discourse ethics of Jürgen Habermas, O'Neill offers a critical reconstruction of practical reason which upholds the primacy of moral community while recognizing the ethical import of historical and cultural difference.
The final chapter applies the preceding hermeneutical critique to the question of the distinctiveness of Christian ethics in the writings of Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Josef Fuchs, and Bruno Schüller. This original contribution will be of special interest to students and teachers of moral philosophy and theology.
In The Ethics of Postmodernity, Gary B. Madison and Marty Fairbairn have collected instructive and illuminating essays that address the dilemmas left in the wake of the postmodern attack on foundationalism. This collection is a powerful statement on the many directions a postmetaphysical ethics might take.
Contributors include Barry Allen, Caroline Bayard, Robert Bernasconi, Thomas W. Busch, M.C. Dillon, Marty Fairbairn, Paul Fairfield, Morny Joy, Richard Kearney, Gary B. Madison, Joseph Margolis, Tom Rockmore, Charles E. Scott, Evan Simpson, and Mark Williams.
Critics have charged that Heidegger's account of authenticity is morally nihilistic, that his fundamental ontology is either egocentric or chauvinistic; and many see Heidegger's turn to Nazism in 1933 as following logically from an indifference, and even hostility, to "otherness" in the premises of his early philosophy.
In The Fragile "We": Ethical Implications of Heidegger's "Being and Time," Lawrence Vogel presents three interpretations of authentic existence--the existentialist, the historicist, and the cosmopolitan--each of which is a plausible version of the personal ideal depicted in Being and Time. He then draws parallels between these interpretations and three moments in the contemporary liberal-communitarian debate over the relationship of the "I" and the "We." His book contributes both to a diagnosis of what there is about Being and Time that invites moral nihilism and to a sense of how fundamental ontology might be recast so that "the other" is accorded an appropriate place in an account of human existence.
In Freedom and the End of Reason, Richard L. Velkley offers an influential interpretation of the central issue of Kant’s philosophy and an evaluation of its position within modern philosophy’s larger history. He persuasively argues that the whole of Kantianism—not merely the Second Critique—focuses on a “critique of practical reason” and is a response to a problem that Kant saw as intrinsic to reason itself: the teleological problem of its goodness. Reconstructing the influence of Rousseau on Kant’s thought, Velkley demonstrates that the relationship between speculative philosophy and practical philosophy in Kant is far more intimate than generally has been perceived. By stressing a Rousseau-inspired notion of reason as a provider of practical ends, he is able to offer an unusually complete account of Kant’s idea of moral culture.
The search for an ethics rooted in human experience is the crux of this deeply compassionate work, here translated from the 1983 German edition. Distinguished philosopher Werner Marx provides a close reading, critique, and Weiterdenken, or "further thinking," of Martin Heidegger's later work on death, language, and poetry, which has often been dismissed as both obscure and obscurantist. In it Marx seeks, and perhaps finds, both a measure for distinguishing between good and evil and a motive for preferring the former.
The poet Hölderlin posed the question, "Is there a measure on earth?" His own answer was emphatic, "There is none," for he was convinced that the measure for man was to be found only in the domain of the heavenly beings. Such metaphysical assumptions, as well as the attempt to found ethical conduct in the nature of man as a rational being, have been rejected by many contemporary thinkers, particularly Heidegger. Yet these thinkers have not been able to provide a satisfactory alternative to metaphysical foundations of the standards for responsible human conduct.
Marx, therefore, goes beyond Heidegger in demonstrating how several of his most basic notions could be relevant to a secular morality in our age. It is death, Marx claims, that unsettles man and transforms his conduct toward his fellow man. the common experience of mortality nourishes ethical life—and leads to the measures of compassion, love, and recognition of one's fellow human beings.
"It is only on the basis of these 'traditional virtues,'" Marx writes, "that we can find a motive for averting the impending dangers which have often enough been described so vividly and convincingly."
Critics have maintained that John Rawls’s theory of justice is unrealistic and undemocratic. Andrius Gališanka’s incisive intellectual biography argues that in misunderstanding the origins and development of Rawls’s argument, previous narratives fail to explain the novelty of his philosophical approach and so misunderstand his political vision.
Moral Philosophy Of Moore
Robert Peter Sylvester, edited by Ray Perkins, Jr. and R. W. Sleeper, foreword by Tom Regan Temple University Press, 1990 Library of Congress B1647.M74S97 1990 | Dewey Decimal 171.2
This study of G. E. Moore’s work in moral philosophy draws upon a close examination of the early essays that preceded the writing of Principia Ethica in order to ground the author’s view that Moore’s famous "naturalistic fallacy argument" of Principia has been widely misunderstood. At the time of his death in 1986, Robert Peter Sylvester was in the process of preparing this book for publication. That process has been brought to completion by Ray Perkins, Jr., and R. W. Sleeper. Sylvester’s reappraisal of the moral philosophy of G. E. Moore argues that criticism of the work of this major twentieth-century British philosopher has been based on misinterpretation of his unified position. He treats Moore’s ideas about "What is Good?", "What things are Good?" and "What ought we to do?" as forming a coherent system.
To bring this work up to date since the author’s death, the editors have provided a bibliographic essay following each chapter in which recent scholarship is discussed.
Since the time of Adam Smith, scholars have tried to understand the role moral sentiments play in modern life, an issue that became especially urgent during and after the 2008 global financial crisis. Previous explanations have ranged from the idea that modern society is built on moral values to the notion that modernization results in moral decay. The essays in this interdisciplinary volume use the example of Dutch society and a wealth of empirical data to propose a novel theory about the ambivalent relation between contemporary life and human nature. In the process, the contributors argue for the need to reject simplistic explanations and reinvent civil society.
Adam Zachary Newton Harvard University Press, 1995 Library of Congress PN49.N52 1995 | Dewey Decimal 809.39353
The ethics of literature, formalists have insisted, resides in the moral quality of a character, a story, perhaps the relation between author and reader. But in the wake of deconstruction and various forms of criticism focusing on difference, the ethical question has been freshly negotiated by literary studies, and to this approach Adam Newton brings a startling new thrust. His book makes a compelling case for understanding narrative as ethics. Assuming an intrinsic and necessary connection between the two, Newton explores the ethical consequences of telling stories and fictionalizing character, and the reciprocal claims binding teller, listener, witness, and reader in the process. He treats these relations as defining properties of prose fiction, of particular import in nineteenth- and twentieth-century texts.
Newton's fresh and nuanced readings cover a wide range of authors and periods, from Charles Dickens to Kazuo Ishiguro and Julian Barnes, from Herman Melville to Richard Wright, from Joseph Conrad and Henry James to Sherwood Anderson and Stephen Crane. An original work of theory as well as a deft critical performance, Narrative Ethics also stakes a claim for itself as moral inquiry. To that end, Newton braids together the ethical-philosophical projects of Emmanuel Levinas, Stanley Cavell, and Mikhail Bakhtin as a kind of chorus for his textual analyses--an elegant bridge between philosophy's ear and literary criticism's voice. His work will generate enormous interest among scholars and students of English and American literature, as well as specialists in narrative and literary theory, hermeneutics, and contemporary philosophy.
Table of Contents:
Narrative as Ethics Toward a Narrative Ethics We Die in a Last Word: Conrad's Lord Jimand Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio Lessons of (for) the Master: Short Fiction by Henry James Creating the Uncreated Features of His Face: Monstration in Crane, Melville, and Wright Telling Others: Secrecy and Recognition in Dickens, Barnes, and Ishiguro Conclusion
Reviews of this book: Newton's book will become a pivotal text in our discussions of the ethical implications of reading. He has taken into account a great deal of prior work, and written with judgment and wisdom. --Daniel Schwartz, Narrative
Reviews of this book: Newton offers elegant, provocative readings of texts ranging from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to Winesburg, Ohio, The Remains of the Day, and Bleak House...Newton's book is a rich vein of critical ore that can be mined profitably. --Choice
Reading Narrative Ethics is a powerful experience, for it engages not just the intellect, but the emotions, and dare I say, the spirit. It stands apart from recent books on ethics in literature by virtue of its severe insistence o its allegiance to an alternative ethical tradition. This alternative way of thinking--and living--has its roots in the work of the Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas and finds support in the writings of Mikhail Bakhtin and Stanley Cavell...Stories, Newton asserts, are not ethical because of their morals or because of their normative logic. They are ethical because of the work they perform, in the social world, of binding teller, listener, witness, and reader to one another...This is a work of passion, integrity, commitment, and mission. --Jay Clayton, Vanderbilt University
Newton probes with admirable subtlety the key question: what do we gain--and what dangers do we run--when we fully enter the life of an 'other' through that 'other's' story? We have here a rare combination of deep and learned critical acumen with passionate love for literature and sensitivity to its nuances. --Wayne C. Booth, University of Chicago
Adam Zachary Newton writes with illuminating passion. Drawing on writers as diverse as Conrad and Henry James, Melville and Sherwood Anderson, Bakhtin and Levinas, he asks what it is to turn one's life into a story for another, and what it is to respond to, or avoid the claim of, another person's narration. He has written a wonderful, important book. --Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago
Once regarded as a conservative critic of culture, then enlisted by the court theoreticians of Nazism, Nietzsche has come to be revered by postmodern thinkers as one of their founding fathers, a prophet of human liberation who revealed the perspectival character of all knowledge and broke radically with traditional forms of morality and philosophy.
In Nietzsche: The Ethics of an Immoralist, Peter Berkowitz challenges this new orthodoxy, asserting that it produces a one-dimensional picture of Nietzsche’s philosophical explorations and passes by much of what is provocative and problematic in his thought. Berkowitz argues that Nietzsche’s thought is rooted in extreme and conflicting opinions about metaphysics and human nature. Discovering a deep unity in Nietzsche’s work by exploring the structure and argumentative movement of a wide range of his books, Berkowitz shows that Nietzsche is a moral and political philosopher in the Socratic sense whose governing question is, “What is the best life?”
Nietzsche, Berkowitz argues, puts forward a severe and aristocratic ethics, an ethics of creativity, that demands that the few human beings who are capable acquire a fundamental understanding of and attain total mastery over the world. Following the path of Nietzsche’s thought, Berkowitz shows that this mastery, which represents a suprapolitical form of rule and entails a radical denigration of political life, is, from Nietzsche’s own perspective, neither desirable nor attainable.
Out of the colorful and richly textured fabric of Nietzsche’s books, Peter Berkowitz weaves an interpretation of Nietzsche’s achievement that is at once respectful and skeptical, an interpretation that brings out the love of truth, the courage, and the yearning for the good that mark Nietzsche’s magisterial effort to live an examined life by giving an account of the best life.
Considered the first significant teacher of rhetoric in America, John Witherspoon also introduced Scottish moral philosophy to this country and as president of Princeton University reformed the curriculum to give emphasis to both studies. He was an active pamphleteer on religious and political issues and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Editor Thomas P. Miller argues that Witherspoon’s career exemplifies the Ciceronian ideal, and the eight selections Miller presents from the 1802 American edition of the Works corroborate that claim. This paperback edition includes a new preface by the editor that surveys the scholarship published on Witherspoon over the past twenty-five years and discusses how Miller’s own perspective on Witherspoon has changed during that time.
In this volume Geoffrey Galt Harpham argues for a deeply original view of the relations among ethics, literary study, and critical theory. In thirteen lucid, provocative and often witty essays, Harpham rejects both the optimism of those who see ethics as a way of solving problems about values or principles and the pessimism of those who regard ethics as primarily a cover story for politics. Ethics, he claims, has been seen by its most powerful theorists as a discourse of “shadows,” a characteristic disturbance of thought in the presence of the other, a source of doubts rather than certainty. At the same time, however, ethics includes an element of violence, even blindness and “fundamentalism,” a crushing drive to clarity and resolution. Contemporary thinkers, Harpham argues, have been unwilling to accept this account of ethics and the obligations it would impose, and have, as a consequence, cultivated social and intellectual marginality as the only site of virtue, the only position in which critical intelligence is at home. They have, he contends, failed to “imagine the center,” to take up the true intellectual and worldly challenge of ethics. Tracking these issues and energies in debates about enlightenment, the politics of the aesthetic, the nature of rationality, and the worldly contexts of theory, Harpham demonstrates in compelling detail the ubiquity and true difficulty of ethics. Shadows of Ethics also revives a neglected genre, the intellectual portrait, with extended meditations on Jacques Derrida, Martha Nussbaum, Fredric Jameson, Geoffrey Hartman, and Noam Chomsky. The book will interest literary critics, philosophers, cultural critics, and all those interested in the ethical character of intellectual work.