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History's Moral Turn

From: Journal of the History of Ideas
Volume 69, Number 2, April 2008
pp. 293-315 | 10.1353/jhi.2008.0011



History is in the midst of experiencing a "moral turn." This shift has resulted from the culture wars, challenges to objectivity and truth, and various world crises. Understanding moral issues through historical narratives requires a dialogue between historians and philosophers. Philosophers need to appreciate historians' attention to circumstance and context, while historians need to be familiar with philosophical concepts such as moral luck and virtue ethics. Rather than simply rendering judgments, history in a moral mode demonstrates the complexity behind agency, character, empathy, and moral decisions.