Doing Better: The Next Revolution in Ethics

By Tad Dunne | Go to book overview

5.
OUR NORMATIVE DRIVES ARE WOUNDED

FROM NORMATIVE DRIVES TO DOING BETTER

If everyone experiences the same inner normative drives as the source of all improvements in life, why do we often disagree on what is the better thing to do? A simple answer is that we bring different experiences to bear on our shared situations. We have not all learned the same things, and even where our upbringings are similar, we are not equally concerned about what we learned. But then why do we not learn from each other’s experiences and priorities? Should not different perspectives widen our viewpoints? Should not the exigence for authenticity working in each of us eventually converge on concerns and priorities shared by all of us?

Somewhere between the inner normative drives and the outer action, the exigence to do better is blocked. We know that people can be mean, and people can be stupid. Unhappily, some people are both. But to get beyond name-calling, we first need to understand the various forces that come into play as our inner drives press for outer action, and what sort of obstacles block their natural progress. There are three dynamics that deserve particular attention. They each involve the combination of the creative movements that initiate moral progress and the affective movements that bequeath moral traditions.

1. The Interplay of Authenticity and Heritage. Our inner normative drives can tell us one thing and our heritages can tell us another. Sometimes these inner drives challenge our heritage, and sometimes our heritage focuses our attention on these inner drives. So, from a historical point of view, the creative movement and the affective movement can conflict.

2. Blind Spots. There are areas where we do not see well. We ignore certain questions about our obsessions, our self-image, our heritage, and about any problem that demands diligent, thoroughgoing analysis. These subjective limitations block both the creativity that would solve new problems and the affectivity that would prompt people to reconcile their differences with others.

3. Willfulness. We see what we ought to do, but we do not do it. Or we see what we should not do, and we go ahead and do it

-70-

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Doing Better: The Next Revolution in Ethics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - We Live in a Moral Universe 23
  • 3 - Our Normative Sources Are within 40
  • 4 - Our Normative Drives Are Ordered 56
  • 5 - Our Normative Drives Are Wounded 70
  • 6 - Our Normative Drives Are Healed 86
  • 7 - The Open Ethicist 100
  • 8 - Method 144
  • 9 - Models 156
  • 10 - Practical Ethics 194
  • 11 - Conclusion 222
  • Appendix- Foundational Ethical Categories 245
  • Notes 280
  • Index 292
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