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Aspects of Alterity

Levinas, Marcel, and the Contemporary Debate

Brian Treanor

Every other is truly other, but no other is wholly other.This is the claim that Aspects of Alterity defends. Taking up the question of otherness that so fascinates contemporary continental philosophy, this book asks what it means for something or someone to be other than the self. Levinas and those influenced by him point out that the philosophical tradition of the West has generally favored the self at the expense of the other. Such a self-centered perspective never encounters the other qua other, however. In response, postmodern thought insists on the absolute otherness of the other, epitomized by the deconstructive claim every other is wholly other.But absolute otherness generates problems and aporias of its own. This has led some thinkers to reevaluate the notion of relative otherness in light of the postmodern critique, arguing for a chiastic account that does justice to both the alterity and the similitude of the other. These latter two positions-absolute otherness and a rehabilitated account of relative otherness-are the main contenders in the contemporary debate.The philosophies of Emmanuel Levinas and Gabriel Marcel provide the point of embarkation for coming to understand the two positions on this question. Levinas and Marcel were contemporaries whose philosophies exhibit remarkably similar concern for the other but nevertheless remain fundamentally incompatible. Thus, these two thinkers provide a striking illustration of both the proximity of and the unbridgeable gap between two accounts of otherness.Aspects of Alterity delves into this debate, first in order understand the issues at stake in these two positions and second to determine which description better accounts for the experience of encountering the other.After a thorough assessment and critique of otherness in Levinas's and Marcel's work, including a discussion of the relationship of ethical alterity to theological assumptions, Aspects of Alterity traces the transmission and development of these two conceptions of otherness. Levinas's version of otherness can be seen in the work of Jacques Derrida and John D. Caputo, while Marcel's understanding of otherness influences the work of Paul Ricoeur and Richard Kearney.Ultimately, Aspects of Alterity makes a case for a hermeneutic account of otherness. Otherness itself is not absolute, but is a chiasm of alterity and similitude. Properly articulated, such an account is capable of addressing the legitimate ethical and epistemological concerns that lead thinkers to construe otherness in absolute terms, but without the absolute aporiasthat accompany such a characterization.

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Awakening Warrior

Revolution in the Ethics of Warfare

Awakening Warrior argues for a revolution in the ethics of warfare for the American War Machine—those political and military institutions that engage the world with physical force. Timothy L. Challans focuses on the systemic, institutional level of morality rather than bemoaning the moral shortcomings of individuals. He asks: What are the limits of individual moral agency? What kind of responsibility do individuals have when considering institutional moral error? How is it that neutral or benign moral actions performed by individuals can have such catastrophic morally negative effects from a systemic perspective? Drawing upon and extending the ethical theories of Kant, Dewey, and Rawls, Challans makes the case for an original set of moral principles to guide ethical action on the battlefield. “…[Challans’s] call for reformation combined with a demand for a new set of moral principles to govern the ethical behavior on the battlefield is certain to garner the attention and ire of many readers and military leaders.” — Parameters “This is an important book that needs to be read and taken seriously. If it is, it could be as revolutionary as its subtitle suggests.” — CHOICE

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Basic Writings

This book contains the first English translations of The Origin of the Moral Sensations and Psychological Observations, the two most important works by the German philosopher Paul Ree. These essays present Rees moral philosophy, which influenced the ideas of his close friend Friedrich Nietzsche considerably. _x000B_Nietzsche scholars have often incorrectly attributed to him arguments and ideas that are Rees and have failed to detect responses to Rees works in Nietzsches writings. Rees thinking combined two strands: a pessimistic conception of human nature, presented in the French moralists aphoristic style that would become a mainstay of Nietzsches own writings, and a theory of morality derived from Darwins theory of natural selection. Rees moral Darwinism was a central factor prompting Nietzsche to write On the Genealogy of Morals and the groundwork for much of todays evolutionary ethics.?_x000B_In an illuminating critical introduction, Robin Small examines Rees life and work, locating his application of evolutionary concepts to morality within a broader history of Darwinism while exploring Rees theoretical and personal relationship with Nietzsche. In placing Nietzsche in his intellectual and social context, Small profoundly challenges the myth of Nietzsche as a solitary thinker.

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Being Amoral

Psychopathy and Moral Incapacity

Thomas Schramme

Psychopathy has been the subject of investigations in both philosophy and psychiatry and yet the conceptual issues remain largely unresolved. This volume approaches psychopathy by considering the question of what psychopaths lack. The contributors investigate specific moral dysfunctions or deficits, shedding light on the capacities people need to be moral by examining cases of real people who seem to lack those capacities. The volume proceeds from the basic assumption that psychopathy is not characterized by a single deficit--for example, the lack of empathy, as some philosophers have proposed -- but by a range of them. Thus contributors address specific deficits that include impairments in rationality, language, fellow-feeling, volition, evaluation, and sympathy. They also consider such issues in moral psychology as moral motivation, moral emotions, and moral character; and they examine social aspects of psychopathic behavior, including ascriptions of moral responsibility, justification of moral blame, and social and legal responses to people perceived to be dangerous. As this volume demonstrates, philosophers will be better equipped to determine what they mean by "the moral point of view" when they connect debates in moral philosophy to the psychiatric notion of psychopathy, which provides some guidance on what humans need in order be able to feel the normative pull of morality. And the empirical work done by psychiatrists and researchers in psychopathy can benefit from the conceptual clarifications offered by philosophy.ContributorsGwen Adshead, Piers Benn, John Deigh, Alan Felthous, Kerrin Jacobs, Heidi Maibom, Eric Matthews, Henning Sass, Thomas Schramme, Susie Scott, David Shoemaker, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Matthew Talbert

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Being Human

Ethics, Environment, and Our Place in the World

Anna L. Peterson

Being Human examines the complex connections among conceptions of human nature, attitudes toward non-human nature, and ethics. Anna Peterson proposes an "ethical anthropology" that examines how ideas of nature and humanity are bound together in ways that shape the very foundations of cultures. Peterson discusses mainstream Western understandings of what it means to be human, as well as alternatives to these perspectives, and suggests that the construction of a compelling, coherent environmental ethics will revise our ideas not only about nature but also about what it means to be human.

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Being Made Strange

Rhetoric beyond Representation

By elaborating upon pivotal twentieth-century studies in language, representation, and subjectivity, Being Made Strange reorients the study of rhetoric according to the discursive formation of subjectivity. The author develops a theory of how rhetorical practices establish social, political, and ethical relations between self and other, individual and collectivity, good and evil, and past and present. He produces a novel methodology that analyzes not only what an individual says, but also the social, political, and ethical conditions that enable him or her to do so. This book also offers valuable ethical and political insights for the study of subjectivity in philosophy, cultural studies, and critical theory.

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Between Transcendence and Historicism

The Ethical Nature of the Arts in Hegelian Aesthetics

Between Transcendence and Historicism explores Hegel’s aesthetics within the larger context of the tradition of theoretical reflection to emphasize its unique ability to account for traditional artistic practice. Arguing that the concept of the ethical is central to Hegel’s philosophy of art, Brian K. Etter examines the poverty of modernist aesthetic theories in contrast to the affirmation by Hegel of the necessity of art. He focuses on the individual arts in greater detail than is normally done for Hegel’s aesthetics, and considers how the dual constitution of the ethical nature of art can be justified, both within Hegel’s own philosophical system and in terms of its relevance to the dilemmas of modern social life. Etter concludes that the arts have a responsibility to represent the goodness of existence, the ideal, and the ethical life in dignifying the metaxological realm through their beauty.

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Beyond the Ethical Demand

K. E. Logstrup

The Danish theologian-philosopher K. E. Løgstrup is second in reputation in his homeland only to Søren Kierkegaard. He is best known outside Europe for his The Ethical Demand, first published in Danish in 1956 and published in an expanded English translation in 1997. Beyond the Ethical Demand contains excerpts, translated into English for the first time, from the numerous books and essays Løgstrup continued to write throughout his life. In the first essay, he engages the critical response to The Ethical Demand, clarifying, elaborating, or defending his original positions. In the next three essays, he extends his contention that human ethics “demands” that we are concerned for the other by introducing the crucial concept of “sovereign expressions of life.” Like Levinas, Løgstrup saw in the phenomenon of “the other” the ground for his ethics. In his later works he developed this concept of “the sovereign expressions of life,” spontaneous phenomena such as trust, mercy, and sincerity that are inherently other-regarding. The last two essays connect his ethics with political life. Interest in Løgstrup in the English-speaking academic community continues to grow, and these important original sources will be essential tools for scholars exploring the further implications of his ethics and phenomenology.

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Bioethics and the Human Goods

An Introduction to Natural Law Bioethics

Alfonso Gomez-Lobo with John Keown

Bioethics and the Human Goods offers students and general readers a brief introduction to bioethics from a "natural law" philosophical perspective. This perspective, which traces its origins to classical antiquity, has profoundly shaped Western ethics and law and is enjoying an exciting renaissance. While compatible with much in the ethical thought of the great religions, it is grounded in reason, not religion. In contrast to the currently dominant bioethical theories of utilitarianism and principlism, the natural law approach offers an understanding of human flourishing grounded in basic human goods, including life, health, friendship, and knowledge, and in the wrongness of intentionally turning against, or neglecting, these goods.

The book is divided into two sections: Foundations and Issues. Foundations sketches a natural law understanding of the important ethical principles of autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice and explores different understandings of "personhood" and whether human embryos are persons. Issues applies a natural law perspective to some of the most controversial debates in contemporary bioethics at the beginning and end of life: research on human embryos, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, the withdrawal of tube-feeding from patients in a "persistent vegetative state," and the definition of death. The text is completed by appendices featuring personal statements by Alfonso Gómez-Lobo on the status of the human embryo and on the definition and determination of death.

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