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Philosophy > Ethics and Moral Philosophy

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Giving an Account of Oneself Cover

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Giving an Account of Oneself

Judith Butler

What does it mean to lead a moral life?In her first extended study of moral philosophy, Judith Butler offers a provocative outline for a new ethical practice-one responsive to the need for critical autonomy and grounded in a new sense of the human subject.Butler takes as her starting point one's ability to answer the questions What have I done?and What ought I to do?She shows that these question can be answered only by asking a prior question, Who is this 'I' who is under an obligation to give an account of itself and to act in certain ways?Because I find that I cannot give an account of myself without accounting for the social conditions under which I emerge, ethical reflection requires a turn to social theory.In three powerfully crafted and lucidly written chapters, Butler demonstrates how difficult it is to give an account of oneself, and how this lack of self-transparency and narratibility is crucial to an ethical understanding of the human. In brilliant dialogue with Adorno, Levinas, Foucault, and other thinkers, she eloquently argues the limits, possibilities, and dangers of contemporary ethical thought.Butler offers a critique of the moral self, arguing that the transparent, rational, and continuous ethical subject is an impossible construct that seeks to deny the specificity of what it is to be human. We can know ourselves only incompletely, and only in relation to a broader social world that has always preceded us and already shaped us in ways we cannot grasp. If inevitably we are partially opaque to ourselves, how can giving an account of ourselves define the ethical act? And doesn't an ethical system that holds us impossibly accountable for full self-knowledge and self-consistency inflict a kind of psychic violence, leading to a culture of self-beratement and cruelty? How does the turn to social theory offer us a chance to understand the specifically social character of our own unknowingness about ourselves?In this invaluable book, by recasting ethics as a project in which being ethical means becoming critical of norms under which we are asked to act, but which we can never fully choose, Butler illuminates what it means for us as fallible creaturesto create and share an ethics of vulnerability, humility, and ethical responsiveness. Judtith Butler is the Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. The most recent of her books are Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence and Undoing Gender.

The Gleam of Light Cover

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The Gleam of Light

Moral Perfectionism and Education in Dewey and Emerson

Natsu Saito

In the name of efficiency, the practice of education has come to be dominated by neoliberal ideology andprocedures of standardization and quantification. Such attempts to make all aspects of practice transparent and subject to systematic accounting lack sensitivity to the invisible and the silent, to something in the humancondition that cannot readily be expressed in an either-or form. Seeking alternatives to such trends, Saito readsDewey's idea of progressive education through the lens of Emersonian moral perfectionism (to borrow a term coined by Stanley Cavell). She elucidates a spiritual and aesthetic dimension to Dewey's notion of growth, one considerably richer than what Dewey alone presents in his typically scientific terminology.

Good and Evil Actions Cover

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Good and Evil Actions

A Journey through Saint Thomas Aquinas

In Good and Evil Actions, Steven J. Jensen navigates a path through the debate, retrieving what is of value from each interpretation

Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World Cover

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Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World

Grace Y. Kao

In 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which declared that every human being, without "distinction of any kind," possesses a set of morally authoritative rights and fundamental freedoms that

Grounding Knowledge Cover

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Grounding Knowledge

Environmental Philosophy, Epistemology, and Place

Christopher J. Preston

Mountains and freeways, oceans and apartment buildings, trees and automobiles: such things lend shape to mental activity, says Christopher J. Preston. Yet Western epistemology, since its origins, has neglected these material factors. Even postmodern perspectives on how we think and know continue to emphasize social and cultural factors over the physical environment.

Grounding Knowledge claims that one of the unforeseen consequences of this anthropocentrism has been to ignore the epistemic argument for maintaining diverse natural environments. Grounding Knowledge supplies that argument. Preston first traces the separation of place and mind in Western epistemology. Drawing connections between skepticism and ungrounded knowledge, he then explores how a common insight in the epistemologies of both Kant and Quine sets the scene for more situated accounts of knowledge. After showing how science studies and cognitive science have both recently moved in this direction, Preston draws further evidence for his thesis from fields as far apart as evolutionary biology, anthropology, and religious studies. He asks what these ideas in contemporary epistemology and environmental philosophy mean for environmental policy, concluding that the grounding of knowledge strongly suggests epistemic reasons for the protection of a full range of physical environments in their natural condition.

Grounding Knowledge comes at a time of increasing dialogue between the sciences and the humanities about our rootedness in all of our different "worlds." Preston hopes to persuade his readers that "it is not only in our biological but also in our cognitive interests to protect these roots."

Habits of Whiteness Cover

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Habits of Whiteness

A Pragmatist Reconstruction

Terrance MacMullan

Habits of Whiteness offers a new way to talk about race and racism by focusing on racial habits and how to change them. According to Terrance MacMullan, the concept of racial whiteness has undermined attempts to create a truly democratic society in the United States. By getting to the core of the racism that lives on in unrecognized habits, MacMullan argues clearly and charitably for white folk to recognize the distance between their color-blind ideals and their actual behavior. Revitalizing the work of W. E. B. Du Bois and John Dewey, MacMullan shows how it is possible to reconstruct racial habits and close the gap between people. This forthright and persuasive analysis of the impulses of whiteness ultimately reorganizes them into something more compatible with our country's increasingly multicultural heritage.

Hans Jonas’s Ethic of Responsibility Cover

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Hans Jonas’s Ethic of Responsibility

From Ontology to Ecology

Articulates the fundamental importance of ontology to Hans Jonas’s environmental ethics.

The Harmony of Goodness Cover

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The Harmony of Goodness

Mutuality and Moral Living According to John Duns Scotus

by Mary Beth Ingham

Since the first publication of John Duns Scotus: The Harmony of Goodness in 1996, much work has appeared in print on Scotus’s theological and philosophical vision including the gradual completion of the Vatican edition of Scotus’s Ordinatio. Various congresses and international gatherings continue to highlight the important significance of this great medieval thinker for the new millennium. Drawing upon the work of several significant scholars combined with her own deepened conviction that understanding Scotus’s moral philosophy and theology must be understood within the broader context of Franciscan spirituality including the role of Stoic and monastic influences on the medieval Franciscans, , Mary Beth Ingham, C.S.J., offers this new edition of John Duns Scotus: The Harmony of Goodness. Scotus’s articulation of a moral vision to lived harmony and to moral living as a path of beauty is offered anew by Ingham in this new edition.

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Hastings Center Report

Vol. 35 (2005) - vol. 41 (2011)

The Hastings Center Report is a leading journal in bioethics featuring original scholarship and commentary on issues in health, medicine, medical research, and biotechnology as they affect individuals, communities, and societies. It is published by The Hastings Center, an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit organization.

Heaven and Earth Are Not Humane Cover

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Heaven and Earth Are Not Humane

The Problem of Evil in Classical Chinese Philosophy

Franklin Perkins

That bad things happen to good people was as true in early China as it is today. Franklin Perkins uses this observation as the thread by which to trace the effort by Chinese thinkers of the Warring States Period (c.475-221 BCE), a time of great conflict and division, to seek reconciliation between humankind and the world. Perkins provides rich new readings of classical Chinese texts and reflects on their significance for Western philosophical discourse.

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