Piety, MacIntyre, and Kierkegaardian Choice

Faith and Philosophy 15 (3):352-365 (1998)
Abstract
This paper concerns a debate between two previous articles in Faith and Philosophy. In 1995, Bruce Ballard criticized Marilyn Piety’s argument that the Kierkegaardian “choice” between the ‘aesthetic’ and ‘ethical’ modes of existence is not an irrational or criterionless leap. Instead, Ballard defended MacIntyre’s view that Kierkegaard’s position succumbs to the tensions inherited from its opposing enlightenment sources. I argue in response that Ballard sets up a false dilemma for Kierkegaard and misunderstands Kierkegaardianpathos. To bolster Piety’s position, I compare her analysis to my own argument (developed in an earlier paper) that the “choice” to determine oneself in light of ethical distinctions has to do with the personal appropriation, not the authority, of morality. I also compare this to arguments from several other scholars that the choice in Either/Or has to do with taking responsibility for and developing one’s ‘self,’ not with providing a foundation for moral norms. Finally, in light of these analyses, I argue against Ballard’s remaining socialistcriticism that Kierkegaard’s ethics is “bourgeois.”
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