Do our actions make any difference in wrong life?: Adorno on moral facts and moral dilemmas

Philosophy and Social Criticism 34 (7):737-758 (2008)
Adorno's moral philosophy has often been accused of making aporetic prescriptions that are too taxing for moral agents. In this article, I defend his approach in terms of a theory of moral dilemmas. My guideline is Adorno's famous sentence that wrong life cannot be lived rightly. I argue that this claim is not distinctly prescriptive, as most of Adorno's critics believe, but is a claim about moral reality. Emphasizing realist aspects of his moral theory, I suggest that wrong life is neither inconceivable nor an amoral or skeptical trope. Instead, Adorno's sentence about wrong life can be interpreted as a claim about the salience of particular moral facts. This, I conclude, allows Adorno to envisage moral reasons that motivate moral conduct case by case, although they are blocked overall
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