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Moral philosophy

UNSPECIFIED (2010) 'Moral philosophy.' In: UNSPECIFIED, (ed.) Theodor Adorno: Key Concepts. UNSPECIFIED, 99 - 114. ISBN 9781844654048

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Abstract

© Editorial matter and selection, 2008 Deborah Cook. Introduction Moral philosophy used to be full of promises. In ancient times, it aimed at providing a guide to the good life that integrated moral matters with other concerns (such as our intellectual, aesthetic and prudential interests). In modern times, it set out to present a supreme principle of morality (such as Kant's categorical imperative, or the greatest-happiness principle of utilitarianism) from which a full-blown system of obligations and permissions was meant to be derived, guiding or constraining our conduct. However, if Adorno is to be believed, the promises of moral philosophy have not been fulfilled: neither the good life, nor even the moral life, is currently available. In this sense, his position can be characterized as a negative moral philosophy. What makes this position interesting is why Adorno thinks that both the good life and the moral life are blocked and what implications he draws from this in terms of criticizing the dominant strands of modern moral philosophy and suggesting how we should live our distorted and deformed lives. In this chapter we shall look at each of these aspects and ask the following questions: 1. Why can no one live the right life in our current social world? 2. Why does the task of moral philosophy today consist essentially in the critique of moral philosophy? 3. Does Adorno say anything about how we should live, or is his negative moral philosophy devoid of any practical guidance? The impossibility of right living today Adorno is not alone in thinking that something is problematic about ethical practice and theory in the modern social world. For example, contemporary Aristotelians often lament the breakdown of traditional social practices which (supposedly) underwrote the exercise of the virtues.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2011 11:17
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2019 22:16
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/1706

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