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Introduction S H A N N O N S U L L I VA N A N D D E N N I S J . S C H M I D T It has long been recognized that the task of living well and justly has a special relation to the project of philosophy. From its origins, philosophy has made a claim to have a privileged relation to this task of thinking and living an ethical life. Only religion has made an equally serious claim on how it is that we are to understand and practice the ethical life. As a result of this deep kinship, the history of philosophy has, at crucial points, been shaped by the desire to pose and answer questions of ethical life: What does such a life mean? How are we to understand the meaning of ethicality ? What are the obstacles to ethical living? Should we assume that an ethical life is a ‘‘better’’ life? Crucial junctures in this development of philosophy have frequently been shaped by the challenges of ethical thought and life. The assumption driving this volume is that the present historical juncture is precisely such a moment when philosophy is being radically challenged by questions of ethical life. There seem to be two reasons for this. First, the tradition of philosophy is undergoing fundamental transformations . One speaks more frequently of the end of philosophy than one does of its lively future, and there is a strong sense, since Friedrich Nietzsche, that the inherited traditions of philosophy are no longer tenable and need to be radically critiqued. Second, the structures and conditions of life have been radically altered as well. Technology and globalization have changed the possibilities of life and death; science is changing the way we perceive the universe and even the character of life itself; political events and wars PAGE 1 1 ................. 16993$ INTR 09-11-08 09:39:15 PS have altered the face of our cultural possibilities. In short, the movement of history and the developments of culture and knowledge seem to have outstripped the capacity of traditional forms of reflection on the ethical life to understand how we are to live well and justly. Ethical life has always been difficult, but it is difficult in new and challenging ways at this historical juncture. This volume gathers a diverse group of philosophers who share the assumption that ours is an especially challenging moment for anyone concerned with the questions of ethical life. In different ways, they address what each takes to be a crucial question that needs to be addressed if thinking is once again to lay claim to having real and original insights into the task of living an ethical life. The concern in each case is to ask about the philosophical significance of these transformations of our times. The essays in this volume address a wide, but nonetheless clearly connected , set of issues relevant to this project: race; the possibility of responsibility , religion, terror, torture, deception; and even the very possibility of an ethical life. Some of the questions addressed are specific to our times; some are ancient questions but with quite contemporary twists. Part I begins with questions about the nature of ethics itself. In ‘‘In the Name of Goodness,’’ Charles E. Scott examines goodness in the context of moral virtues. Arguing that the quality of goodness depends on its being recognized as good, Scott teases out the vulnerability of goodness and the resulting need for the good to vigilantly preserve and promote it. For Scott, the desire to be good can be motivated and fulfilled by orders of behavior and meaning that are thought of as immoral and perverse. The desire for goodness, in other words, is not necessarily governed by goodness itself. Reflecting on David Wood’s reading of Nietzsche on revenge through Martin Heidegger’s account of temporality, Scott opens up an alternative to goodness that is based on the indifference of time. If goodness can fall under the jurisdiction of motivating values such as revenge, then perhaps it is worth exploring a way of living that is neither good nor bad and thus can be responsive to the gift of time that affirms the impossibility of thorough completion. Günter Figal also raises questions about the nature and value of philosophical ethics, in particular, whether ethics can fulfill the expectations attached to it in the wake of technoscientific revolutions and the acceleration of globalization. In ‘‘What Is Philosophical Ethics?’’ Figal argues that...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780823247714
Print ISBN
9780823229734
MARC Record
OCLC
733997354
Pages
200
Launched on MUSE
2012-06-26
Language
English
Open Access
N
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