Through the Moral Maze: Searching for Absolute Values in a Pluralistic World

Through the Moral Maze: Searching for Absolute Values in a Pluralistic World

Through the Moral Maze: Searching for Absolute Values in a Pluralistic World

Through the Moral Maze: Searching for Absolute Values in a Pluralistic World

Synopsis

The erosion of shared beliefs about right and wrong; the rift between public and private morality; debates about objective standards of value in education; the uncertain fate of religion; and rival answers to the question, "Why be moral?" - these are some of the tensions present in our increasingly multicultural society. Through the Moral Maze is written for those who are troubled by conflicting points of view on moral and spiritual matters. In the presence of such conflicts, many people wonder about the truth of their own beliefs and ask what values can survive modern challenges to their ethical aspirations. Robert Kane argues that the search for absolute value is a fundamental human quest that need not be abandoned, provided we are willing to think in new ways. His book draws upon the wisdom of the past embodied in our philosophical and religious traditions. But the author insists that if this wisdom is to survive in a world of conflicting cultures, we must face and strive to tame troubling contradictions. Through the Moral Maze takes on a broad range of issues in social ethics, politics, education, and religion. It addresses current controversies about environmentalism, feminism, multiculturalism, and moral education. But above all, it does not shun the fundamental questions about value and the meaning of life that lie behind these controversies.

Excerpt

This book is written for readers of all ages and backgrounds troubled by conflicting points of view on moral and spiritual matters, who may wonder as a consequence about the truth of their own beliefs and ask what values can be believed and passed on to their children in the face of the unprecedented challenges of modern life. The book results from my own struggles with these issues over a period of twenty-five years and from attempts to pass on what I learned to university honors students and, through lectures, to adult audiences in various parts of the country, who were as deeply troubled, it turned out, by the moral malaise of the times as I was. No special background in philosophy or other academic subjects is required to read the book; the background is supplied as we go along. But neither do I talk down to readers. They are challenged to do some careful thinking about important issues and about the bases of their own beliefs. General issues about ethics and values are discussed in chapters 1-4 and then applied in chapters 5-9 to current controversies about social ethics, public policy, private versus public morality, politics, religion, the environment, feminism, multiculturalism, the teaching of values, and other topics.

The book should also be of interest to philosophers and other academics, as well as ordinary readers, since it offers novel approaches to old questions. It could serve as a text along with other works in many college courses in which current controversies about values and ethics arise, not only in ethics courses themselves, but in courses that deal with current debates about the objectivity of values, political rights, standards of excellence (for example, in art or literature), or debates generated by postmodernist writings or by popular works like Bellah and colleagues' Habits of the Heart, Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, MacIntyre's After Virtue, or Hunter's Culture Wars. The book could also be recommended to students in any courses who are troubled about foundational questions of ethics (including the "Why be moral?" question) and unsatisfied by the familiar answers to such questions, whether utilitarian, Kantian, or whatever. In applied ethics . . .

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