Sunday, September 06, 2009

a sense of ethical life

bridging artful flourishing and humanistic care

I’m explicating a general account of ethical life relative to a long review, titled “Morality and Virtue” (Ethics, 2004), very well done, by David Copp (editor of The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory, 2006) and David Sobel (editor of Reasons for Action, 2009). The review, pro and con, is about Michael Slote, Morals from Motives (2001); Philippa Foot, Natural Goodness (2001); and Rosalind Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics (1999)—altogether a millennial moment for virtue-ethical theory.

My working through the review (in a writerly dialogue with it all) is a way for me to deal with moral realist (Copp) objections to perspectives I favor (having read the Slote and Foot books; Hursthouse is expanding on Foot) and generally to clarify my sense of ethical theory relative to that nexus (Slote, Foot, Hursthouse, and Copp & Sobel)—appropriative work for an appropriative ethics. I hope to have a long discussion to offer Monday, 9/7.

I then want to do a modest trek through some recent thought on art, literary art especially.


David Sobel says, in email to me yesterday, that he’s left the topics of “Morality and Virtue” “behind me,” in response to my query about what critical response he’s gotten. No “serious responses.” I find their analysis ultimately invalid, though immensely useful (especially as explication that provides a fine overview of contemporary virtue-ethical thought; it’s worth obtaining and reading, if you’re interested in virtue ethics), and I generated 17+ pages of notes (immanent to particular text passages) which I’m organizing.

I’ll want to say some things about “artful flourishing” before any focus on “bridging.”