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Making Morality

Pragmatist Reconstruction in Ethical Theory

Todd Lekan

Publication Year: 2003

"Making Morality is an important, pragmatic contribution to moral theory. No other book comes close to being as well informed of the classical pragmatic moral tradition and responsive to current metaethical issues in wider philosophical discussions."--Michael Eldridge, UNC Charlotte "This is a fine book. Lekan offers a detailed pragmatic conception of ethics. But it is far more. It is a rigorous, engaging discussion of ethical theory that explicitly wrestles with thinkers and ideas that are the mainstay of contemporary Anglo-American ethics. It is an important work in mainstream ethics that merits serious and widespread attention."--Hugh LaFollette, East Tennessee State University In this new contribution to moral theory, Todd Lekan argues for a pragmatist conception of morality as an evolving, educational, and fallible practice of everyday life. Drawing on the work of John Dewey, Lekan asserts that moral norms are neither timeless truths nor subjective whims, but habits transmitted through practices. Like the habits that make up medicine or engineering, moral habits are subject to rational evaluation and change according to new challenges and circumstances. This pragmatic interpretation of morality provides a way out of the conundrum of relativism and absolutism. Building on classical American philosophy to address current philosophical concerns, Lekan's theory revises our basic understanding of moral life and the place of theorizing within that life. Making Morality will prove of great interest to ethical theorists, as it enjoins them to measure theoretical inquiries by how well they produce intellectual tools for problem-solving in dynamic, complex communities.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

This book owes much to the insightful criticism of Hugh LaFollette, who subjected an early version of this manuscript to thoughtful, honest, and detailed criticism. Michael Eldridge offered many useful comments, especially with regard to the final...

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pp. 1-12

This book defends a pragmatist account of morality. By “pragmatist” I mean an account of morality that builds on the work of the classical pragmatist tradition of American philosophy and in particular, Dewey’s contribution to that...

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Chapter 1

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pp. 13-60

This chapter offers a pragmatist account of how practical knowledge functions in value deliberation and rational conduct. My theory is meant to account for aesthetic, practical, and cognitive values—as well as those values narrowly defined as...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 61-85

Chapter 1 defended a pragmatist account of practical knowledge in the domains of intentional action and practical justification. This chapter extends the pragmatist view into a discussion of goods. I do not offer a full theory of value in the sense...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 86-126

In this chapter I apply the model of norms and values developed in Chapters 1 and 2 to moral principles. I argue that pragmatism provides a compelling, superior middle way between the view that moral judgment is based on universal principles...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 127-146

The claims advanced so far are about the structure of practical reasoning and moral rationality, but I have not addressed the question of what counts as “moral.” In this chapter, I advance an account of the moral domain that is divided into two...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 147-176

The final chapter is devoted to demonstrating that the pragmatist theory of morality should interface with a robust social criticism. The metaethical job performed in this book is concerned mostly with rather conceptual goals. These involve the...


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pp. 177-194


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pp. 195-199


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pp. 201-205

E-ISBN-13: 9780826591654
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826514202
Print-ISBN-10: 0826514200

Page Count: 244
Publication Year: 2003