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Moralism: A Study of a Vice

Craig Taylor
Copyright Date: 2012
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In Moralism: A Study of a Vice, Craig Taylor delves into one of the most overlooked ethical concerns of our time: the vice of moralism, or the distortion of moral thought, reflection, and judgment. This flawed tendency in human nature is pervasive on all levels of society, and affects people from all walks of life - from the philosopher to the pundits and politicians. Covering a wide variety of topics, Moralism takes on such salient issues as the nearly impossible demands of stringent morality, the conflict between morals and other values, and the contrast between the practice of moral philosophy and other modes of moral thought and reflection. In connecting his argument to the world at large, Taylor draws upon examples of moralism in the media, in literature, and in art. This highly original and provocative study will be of interest to students of philosophy, psychology, theology, and media, and to anyone who takes an interest in contemporary morality.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9469-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Craig Taylor
  4. ONE Moralism and related vices
    (pp. 1-18)

    Moralism, I shall argue, involves a distortion of moral thought, reflection and judgement about both people and events. So understood, moralism can be thought of as a kind of vice related specifically to moral thought and judgement. However, there are, as I shall outline, a number of vices that could be so described. Indeed, it may be argued that moralism is really a kind of blanket term used to signify a range of such vices or human tendencies. Certainly, moralism as a term of moral criticism is commonly used in this sort of way, and I have no desire to...

  5. TWO The Scarlet Letter: “a tale of human frailty and sorrow”
    (pp. 19-36)

    I suggested in the previous chapter that moral thought maybe expressed in responses that are immediate and unthinking: in responses that are not mediated by moral judgement. In particular, I suggested there will be cases in which moral thought does not issue in moral judgement at all but rather in immediate emotional responses such as pity or sympathy. In this chapter I shall begin to explain what I mean by that, and I will do so by focusing first on a situation where itisappropriate actually to make a moral judgement. My concern will be to show, in this...

  6. THREE Trusting oneself
    (pp. 37-56)

    In the previous chapter I considered the way in which moralism may involve a failure to recognize, in one’s judgements of another person, aspects of their humanity and specifically their nature as a morally accountable being. In this chapter I want to examine how moralism, as I have characterized it, involves anevasionof serious or genuine moral thought and reflection, and what moralistic judgements suggest about the character of those who make them. In so doing I hope to get somewhat clearer about the kinds of demands that moral thought or reflection makes on us and thus the kinds...

  7. FOUR Overweening morality
    (pp. 57-82)

    So far I have been focusing on particular moralistic judgements, on the nature of such judgements (Chapters 1 and 2) and about what such judgements suggest about the character of those who make them (Chapter 3). So my concern so far has been with certain ways in which particular moral judgements may be flawed, or suggest character flaws, in various ways. However, there is in fact a more radical position we might take according to which the focus of criticism is not particular moral judgements but rather the whole practice of moral judgement as we might understand it. According to...

  8. FIVE Moral judgement and moral reflection
    (pp. 83-108)

    In the previous chapter I considered a kind of moralism as the overweening of morality and, in response to this, what the proper scope or limits to moral thought and judgement might be. More explicitly, I suggested that the way in which certain moral theories (and particularly impartialist theories) conceive of the conflict between moral and other values distorts our understanding of important human values; in particular by undermining the kind of responsiveness to others through which such values are revealed. In this respect then, as I shall argue in this chapter, the kind of overweening of morality that I...

  9. SIX Moral difference
    (pp. 109-130)

    At the end of the previous chapter I suggested that moral reflection involves more than a grasp of moral concepts or theories and the ability to make moral judgements on that basis: specifically, that it involved the capacity to ask certain questions of oneself. My focus there was on the many ways in which our own character (and weakness) may remain dark to us and how serious moral reflection requires a certain capacity for self-scrutiny But an aspect of such questioning that I did not so much highlight there is the essentially personal nature of such reflections on at least...

  10. SEVEN Public moralism
    (pp. 131-152)

    In Chapter 3 I discussed public moralism – including by various elements of the media – in relation to art, specifically the photographic work of Bill Henson. But public moralism, including by the media, is not restricted to the moral issues raised in such cases. In this chapter I shall consider a very different kind of case: moralism about the actions of elected political leaders. To focus on the moralism that is at issue here, consider the following passage from David Owen’s bookBalkan Odyssey(1995), his account of his role as European negotiator between the warring parties in the...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 153-162)

    While I have had an interest in exploring the nature of moralism as a vice for some time, the main catalyst for writing this book was the moral furore over the exhibition of Australian artist Bill Henson discussed above. But at the time the driving force for me was not most prominently a concern to explore, as I do in Chapter 3, the possible significance of art to moral thought and reflection; on the contrary, what drove me was really my own moral response to these events, a response not most directly to Henson’s images but to the way in...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 163-178)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 179-184)
  14. Index
    (pp. 185-188)