Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics

Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics

Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics

Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics

Synopsis

Moral Understandings depends an expressive-collaborative model of morality that challenges common assumptions in philosophical ethics. Morality is best revealed in practice, the socially accepted patterns of assigning and deflecting responsibility. These practices express shared understandings about who we are, what we value, and to whom we are required to account for our actions. Morality is collaborative as we reproduce or shift our moral understandings together in many daily interactions of social life. For this reason, moral practices cannot be separated from other social practices, nor moral identities from social roles and institutions in particular ways of lite. In fact, not everyone has the same power to set or change moral understandings. Differently valued social-moral identities with different responsibilities and privileges are the rule in human societies.

Excerpt

The first edition of Moral Understandings: a Feminist Study in Ethics was written a decade ago. It was my first book, and I am now amused by the fact that I believed I was writing principally to those practitioners of moral theory in the mode that the book relentlessly critiques, what I call the “theoreticaljuridical” paradigm. I was on a mission, and I did not grasp until after the book’s publication that its reception would, predictably, be strongest among those who already felt alienated from moral philosophy in the dominant modes, as well as many who simply would find something in the book that is useful for the kind of work in which they were already engaged. the fortress of theoretical-juridical moral philosophy did not totter before my onslaught; yet things change, however slowly. in professional philosophy, things change very slowly. I hope that this edition of Moral Understandings will continue to contribute to that change, but I now see its contribution differently. I have been grateful for the broad reception the book has already achieved in quite varied quarters. I have been excited by the book’s reaching younger philosophers and graduate students. It is my hope that they learn to integrate the questions the book raises and the critical perspective it urges into their broader repertoire in ethics and then that they struggle in creative ways with the reflective disequilibrium the amalgam produces.

The alternately exhilarating and frustrating fortunes in academic philosophy of all work that bears the tag “feminist” has unquestionably shaped the book’s audience. I still find that many philosophers do not understand that . . .

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