Even a scant acquaintance with current cultural and philosophical trends will readily point to a widespread predilection for subjectivist forms of moral reasoning. By “subjectivist” I refer to various non-cognitivist and constructionist paradigms in moral philosophy and popular parlance that reduce ethical statements to expressions of individual or collective preferences, feelings, or prejudices stripped of any object-given normativity. The following are but some of the factors that fuel such perspectives: the proverbial fact/value dichotomy and anti-realist sentiments pervading large swaths of analytic philosophy; poststructuralist and postcolonial “genealogies” that tie the language of universal morality to discourses of power, patriarchy, and totalitarian agency; and the utilization of the language of virtues, values, and “moral clarity” for a specific set of domestic and foreign policy commitments. Such intellectual positions, accordingly, result in a double remove of ethics: from the structure of reality on the hand and from human existence and accounts of human flourishing on the other. In order to interrogate these issues at a greater length, I will briefly turn to Iris Murdoch’s moral philosophy in order to examine how her specific form of ethical realism addresses such claims about ethics. Despite some reservations about the cogency of her approach, I will argue that her basic intuition to connect morality with the wider realm of meaning and accounts of human flourishing is indispensable for any theological account of the humanization of life.
Jeroncic, Ante, "Attending to Reality: Iris Murdoch’s Ethical Realism" (2013). Faculty Publications. 80.
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