Notes on discussion concerning new work associated with Character Ethics
What was I thinking?
Some of the texts I referred to are newer than others but all are recent.
In order I discussed:
Concerning the biological ground of behavior and the implications of biology for ethics and building character:
From Kirkus Reviews,
April 15, 1991
From these texts I hope to suggest:
Understanding why we naturally behave the way we do in light of modern science is important for us to have a sense of autonomy as Kant describes it. We are only free to make our own choices if we know what factors influence us as best we can. While this may certainly only mean there are other factors we are not aware of, the idea that someone in our culture knows something about us and is using it to manipulate us destroys our sense of autonomy. It is important to know as much as those who seek to manipulate us about those factors so we can maintain a sense that we have free choice and are responsible for our own actions. It is also important for us to know what defines being human and separates us from other beings so we can have a sense of what makes a life excellent and happy. Aristotle’s view is that our rationality is what defines us and being excellent in all that we aim to achieve, especially in intellectual things is the means of reaching eudaimonia.
I next compared two texts discussing the issue of social class and biology to consider contemporary views that character is related to culture (and culture is not necessarily linked to social concepts of race, but intelligence and habits.) Again, on this issue it would seem that contemporary views, though in disagreement on nature and nurture issues, do agree in general with Aristotelian views of character ethics.
The End of Racism : Principles for a Multiracial Society by Dinesh D'Souza. Paperback (September 1996)
Lastly, I mentioned John Rawls’ new book: The Law of Peoples. In this the concern is for a world civil society.
What was I thinking? Too many books to survey all at once?
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