Published Volume XXVIII, Nos. 1 and 2, 2015
The Catholic University of America
The subject is as large as it is difficult: the meaning or form of morality, particularly as it relates to politics. My concern is with what I consider a dubious tendency in Western moral philosophy since the ancient Greeks. That tendency seems to me detrimental to morality’s ability to find its way in actual circumstances, especially in highly charged and hard-to-understand situations. What is questionable is the habit of defining morality as adherence to a preexisting rational or ideal standard. The problem is not with the assumption that human beings must respect a moral imperative over which, in a crucial sense, they have no control. Morality does have a universal dimension and its own morally binding authority. The problem is with a particular, abstract, reifying conception of that authority.
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