Identity, Character, and Morality: Essays in Moral by Owen J. Flanagan, Amelie Oksenberg Rorty

By Owen J. Flanagan, Amelie Oksenberg Rorty

Many philosophers think that normative ethics is in precept autonomous of psychology. against this, the authors of those essays discover the interconnections among psychology and ethical conception. They examine the mental constraints on realizable moral beliefs and articulate the mental assumptions at the back of conventional ethics. in addition they learn the methods in which the elemental structure of the brain, center feelings, styles of person improvement, social psychology, and the boundaries on human capacities for rational deliberation impact morality.Owen Flanagan is Professor of Philosophy at Duke collage. Am???lie Oksenberg Rorty is Professor of Philosophy at Mount Holyoke collage.

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In discussing the ancient warrior ethic, he writes that "the framework within which we act and judge doesn't need to be articulated theoretically. It isn't usually by those who live the warrior ethic" (p. 20). But this reasonable retraction of the articulacy requirement is, I want to insist, a genuine change in his view, and it is in tension with the emphasis Taylor continues to place on the powerful connection between identity, meaning, and articulation. For example, Taylor writes that we "find the sense of life through articulating it" (1989, 18).

Dewey, who agrees with James in emphasizing the centrality of the moral life, points out that it would be morbid to subject each act to moral scrutiny; a well-formed moral character knows when to raise moral issues (Dewey 1960, 12). But choices that affect one's own life over a considerable period of time and choices that affect the lives of others (the choices just mentioned fall into both categories) do raise moral issues, issues that cannot be settled adequately unless one inquires how the contemplated alternatives would fit into the agent's life as well as how they would affect the lives of others.

The argument fails on another basis as well. Even if we demand reflective articulation, there is no incoherence in the idea that a reflective and articulate social psychologist, for example, might know that both truths obtain. Furthermore, he might consciously infer that both apply to his own case. This would involve, at a minimum, a recognition of the fact that he finds noninstrumental good in certain human relations and that his identity, interests, abilities, self-esteem, and so on, have sources in the activities of past and present others.

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