We all have moral beliefs. What if we are unsure about what to believe about a serious moral issue, or if one belief conflicts with another that we hold with equal conviction? When such conflicts and doubts occur, we try to make our beliefs cohere, and are forced to engage in a moral inquiry. Michael R. DePaul argues that we have to make our beliefs cohere, but that the current coherence methods are seriously flawed. Methods such as that which John (...) Rawls has proposed are intellectualist and mechanical. DePaul argues that it is not just arguments that need to be considered in moral inquiry. The ability to make sensitive moral judgements is vital to any philosophical inquiry into morality. The inquirer must consider how life experiences and experiences with literature, film, theater, music and art have influenced the capacity to make moral judgments, and attempt to insure that this capacity is neither naive nor corrupted. Balance and Refinement is the only book to focus primarily on epistemological and methodological questions in moral realism. The author raises issues of moral conversions, the possibility of naivete and corruption, and the significant role of life experience and experiences with the arts in moral inquiry. He also discusses the role of literature in moral inquiry. This title will make a valuable contribution to epistemology, ethics, and moral theory. (shrink)
Philips defends a middle ground between the view that there is a set of standards binding on rational beings as such (universalism) and the view that differences in morals reduce ultimately to matters of taste (skepticism). He begins with a sustained critique of universalist moral theories and some familiar approaches to concrete moral questions that presuppose them (most appeals to intuitions, respect for person's moralities, and versions of contractarianism and wide reflective equilibrium). He goes on to criticize major recent attempts (...) to develop nonuniversalist alternatives to skepticism, arguing that they rely on excessively abstract and philosophically indefensible preference satisfaction theories of the good. According to Philips's positive alternative, moral standards are justified to the extent that they support reasonably valued ways of life. He devotes considerable attention to clarifying this idea and draws conclusions from it about the role and limits of reason in ethics. Philips's theory provides us with a theoretical basis for dealing with actual moral controversies and for approaching questions of applied and professional ethics in a systematic way. (shrink)
Are all moral truths relative or do certain moral truths hold for all cultures and people? In Moral Relativism: A Reader, this and related questions are addressed by twenty-one contemporary moral philosophers and thinkers. This engaging and nontechnical anthology, the only up-to-date collection devoted solely to the topic of moral relativism, is accessible to a wide range of readers including undergraduate students from various disciplines. The selections are organized under six main topics: (1) General Issues; (2) Relativism and Moral Diversity; (...) (3) On the Coherence of Moral Relativism; (4) Defense and Criticism; (5) Relativism, Realism, and Rationality; and (6) Case Study on Relativism. Contributors include Ruth Benedict, Richard Brandt, Thomas L. Carson, Philippa Foot, Gordon Graham, Gilbert Harman, Loretta M. Kopelman, David Lyons, J. L. Mackie, Michele Moody-Adams, Paul K. Moser, Thomas Nagel, Martha Nussbaum, Karl Popper, Betsy Postow, James Rachels, W. D. Ross, T. M. Scanlon, William Graham Sumner, and Carl Wellman. The volume concludes with a case study on female circumcision/genital mutilation that vividly brings into focus the practical aspects and implications of moral relativism. An ideal primary text for courses in moral relativism, Moral Relativism: A Reader can also be used as a supplementary text for introductory courses in ethics and for courses in various disciplines--anthropology, sociology, theology, political science, and cultural studies--that discuss relativism. The volume's pedagogical and research value is enhanced by a topical bibliography on moral relativism and a substantial general introduction that includes explanatory summaries of the twenty selections. (shrink)
This book introduces the reader to ethics by examining a current and important debate. During the last fifty years the orthodox position in ethics has been a broadly non-cognitivist one: since there are no moral facts, moral remarks are best understood, not as attempting to describe the world, but as having some other function - such as expressing the attitudes or preferences of the speaker. In recent years this position has been increasingly challenged by moral realists who maintain that there (...) are moral facts; there is a truth of the matter in ethics, which is independent of our views, and which we seek to discover. Unfortunately much of this interesting debate found in the work of McDowell, Wiggins, Putnam, Blackburn and others is not easily accessible to undergraduates. McNaughton presents many of the major issues in ethics by way of a clear exposition of both sides of this argument and assumes no prior knowledge of philosophy. Topics discussed include: moral observation, moral motivation, amoralism and wickedness, moral weakness, cultural relativism and utilitarianism. The book concludes that a convincing case can be made out for a radical form of moral realism in which moral virtue is found, not in the following of correct moral principles, but rather in the development of moral sensitivity. Moral Vision is a clear and engaged introduction to an important, and often troubling, debate. (shrink)
A strong tradition in philosophy denies the possibility of moral dilemmas. Recently, several philosophers reversed this tradition. In this dissertation, I clarify some fundamental issues in this debate, argue for the possibility of moral dilemmas, and determine some implications of this possibility. ;In chapter I, I define moral dilemmas roughly as situations where an agent morally ought to adopt each of two alternatives but cannot adopt both. Moral dilemmas are resolvable if and only if one of the moral oughts overrides (...) the other. ;In chapter II, I criticize several opponents of moral dilemmas, including utilitarians, Kant, Aquinas, and Ross. My main criticism is that no opponent of moral dilemmas can adequately justify moral residue . ;Chapters III and IV concern the two main arguments against the possibility of moral dilemmas. First, the argument for 'ought' implies 'can' runs as follows. If the agent cannot adopt both, then it is not the case that the agent ought to adopt both. But the agent ought to adopt both, since the agent ought to adopt each . Thus, the defining judgements of a moral dilemma seem to imply a contradiction. In response, I argue that the relation between 'ought' and 'can' is not a logical implication but a conversational implicature. ;Chapter IV concerns the argument from 'ought' implies 'permitted': If the agent ought to adopt one alternative, then the agent is permitted to adopt that alternative, which means that it is not the case that the agent ought not to adopt that alternative. But the agent ought not to adopt that alternative, since the agent ought to adopt the other alternative and cannot adopt both. I respond that 'ought' does not logically imply but conversationally implicates 'permitted'. ;In chapter V, I argue that, despite recent claims, both moral realism and anti-realism are compatible with the possibility of moral dilemmas. Thus, there are several reasons to accept and no reasons to deny the possibility of moral dilemmas. (shrink)
The late J. L. Mackie and his work were a focus for much of the best philosophical thinking in the Oxford tradition. His moral thought centres on that most fundamental issue in moral philosophy – the issue of whether our moral judgements are in some way objective. The contributors to this volume, first published in 1985, are among the most distinguished figures in moral philosophy, and their essays in tribute to John Mackie present views at the forefront of the subject. (...) Five of the essays give a new understanding of the objectivity of moral judgements. These are by Simon Blackburn, R.M. Hare, John McDowell, Susan Hurley and Bernard Williams. The remaining contributors – Philippa Foot, Steven Lukes, Amartya Sen, David Wiggins – give their attention to problems which are equally compelling, such as the defence of a moral outlook based on a conception of a need and of what follows from it. The volume also includes the addresses given by Simon Blackburn and George Cawkwell at the memorial service for John Mackie, and a list of his publications, compiled by Joan Mackie. (shrink)
Morals from Motives develops a virtue ethics inspired more by Hume and Hutcheson's moral sentimentalism than by recently-influential Aristotelianism. It argues that a reconfigured and expanded "morality of caring" can offer a general account of right and wrong action as well as social justice. Expanding the frontiers of ethics, it goes on to show how a motive-based "pure" virtue theory can also help us to understand the nature of human well-being and practical reason.
This book offers the fullest and most sophisticated account of Gert's influential moral theory, a model first articulated in the classic work The Moral Rules: A New Rational Foundation for Morality, published in 1970. In this final revision, Gert makes clear that the moral rules are only one part of an informal system that does not provide unique answers to every moral question but does always provide a range of morally acceptable options. A new chapter on reasons includes an account (...) of what makes one reason better than another and a second new chapter is devoted to the question of justifying violations of the rules. Moral impartiality, the moral ideals, and virtue and vice, are all treated in greater detail. Throughout, Gert attempts to answer all of the challenges that his work has provoked. (shrink)
Moral functioning is a defining feature of human personhood and human social life. Moral Psychology provides an integrative and evaluative overview of the theoretical and empirical traditions that have attempted to make sense of moral cognition, prosocial behavior, and the development of virtuous character.This is the first book to integrate a comprehensive review of the psychological literatures with allied traditions in ethics. Moral rationality and decisionmaking; the development of the sense of fairness and justice, and of prosocial dispositions; as well (...) as the notion of moral self and moral identity and their relation to issues of character and virtue are fully discussed in the rich contexts provided by psychological and philosophical paradigms. Lapsley emphasizes parenting and educational strategies for influencing moral behavior, reasoning, and character development, and charts a line of research for the “post-Kohlbergian era” in moral psychology.This book will be an invaluable text for advanced courses in moral psychology, as taught in departments of psychology, education, and philosophy. It will also prove to be a standard reference work for researchers and ethicists alike. (shrink)
This stimulating and wide-ranging book mounts a profound enquiry into some of the most pressing questions of our age, by examining the relationship between biological science and Christianity. The history of biological discovery is explored from the point of view of a leading philosopher and ethicist. What effect should modern biological theory and practice have on Christian understanding of ethics? How much of that theory and practice should Christians endorse? Can Christians, for example, agree that biological changes are not governed (...) by transcendent values, or that there are no clear or essential boundaries between species? To what extent can 'Nature' set our standards? Professor Clark takes a reasoned look at biological theory since Darwin and argues that an orthodox Christian philosophy is better able to accommodate the truth of such theory than is the sort of progressive, meliorist interpretation of Christian doctrine which is usually offered as the properly 'modern' option. (shrink)
This book offers a unified collection of published and unpublished papers by Robert Audi, a renowned defender of the rationalist position in ethics. Taken together, the essays present a vigorous, broadly-based argument in moral epistemology and a related account of reasons for action and their bearing on moral justification and moral character. Part I details Audi's compelling moral epistemology while Part II offers a unique vision of ethical concepts and an account of moral explanation, as well as a powerful model (...) of moral realism. Part III extends this account of moral explanation to moral responsibility for both actions and character and to the relation between virtue and the actions that express it. Part IV elaborates a theory of reasons for action that locates them in relation to three of their traditionally major sources: desire, moral judgment, and value. Clear and illuminating, Audi's introduction outlines and interconnects the self-contained but cumulatively arranged essays. It also places them in relation to classical and contemporary literature, and directs readers to large segments of thematically connected material spread throughout the book. Audi ends with a powerfully synthetic final essay. (shrink)
This book has three goals. The first is to demonstrate that the modern, distinctly Kantian, notion of moral responsibility is incoherent by virtue of the way it fuses free will and blameworthiness. The second is to develop an alternative notion of moral responsibility that separates causal responsibility from blameworthiness and views both as relative to the boundaries of our moral community. The third is to establish a framework for arguing openly about our moral responsibility for particular kinds of harm.
Social action is central to social thought. This centrality reflects the overwhelming causal significance of action for social life, the centrality of action to any account of social phenomena, and the fact that conventions and normativity are features of human activity. This book provides philosophical analyses of fundamental categories of human social action, including cooperative action, conventional action, social norm governed action, and the actions of the occupants of organizational roles. A distinctive feature of the book is that it applies (...) these theories of social action categories to some important moral issues that arise in social contexts such as the collective responsibility for environmental pollution, humanitarian intervention, and dealing with the rights of minority groups. Avoiding both the excessively atomistic individualism of rational choice theorists and implausible collectivist assumptions, this important book will be widely read by philosophers of the social sciences, political scientists and sociologists. (shrink)
This book explores Hume's account of reason and its role in human understanding, seen in the context of other notable accounts by philosophers of the early modern period. David Owen offers new interpretations of many of Hume's most famous arguments about induction, belief, scepticism, the passions, and moral distinctions.
There has recently been a good deal of interest in moral sentimentalism, but most of that interest has been exclusively either in metaethical questions about the meaning of moral terms or in normative issues about benevolence and/or caring and their place in morality. In Moral Sentimentalism Michael Slote attempts to deal with both sorts of issues and to do so, primarily, in terms of the notion or phenomenon of empathy. Hume sought to do something like this over two centuries ago, (...) though he didn't have the term "empathy" and used "sympathy" instead; and in effect Slote is seeking to give moral sentimentalism a "second wind" in and for contemporary circumstances. By relying systematically on empathy in its account of normative morality and in what it has to say about the meaning of moral vocabulary, Moral Sentimentalism offers a unified overall ethical picture that can then be tested against ethical rationalism. Rationalism has recently dominated the scene in ethics, but by showing how sentimentalism can make coherent and intuitive sense of such preferred rationalist notions as autonomy, respect, and justice--and by showing how a sentimentalism based in empathy can deal with ethically significant aspects of the moral life that rationalism tends to ignore or skimp on--Slote hopes a wider and more active debate between rationalism and sentimentalism can be set in motion. There are signs that sentimentalist modes of thought are gaining new footholds on the way ethics is done, and this new book is very hopeful about these possibilities. (shrink)
Introduction -- The self-interest based contractarian response to the skeptic -- A feminist ethics response to the skeptic -- Deformed desires -- Self-interest versus morality -- The amoralist -- The motive skeptic -- The interdependency thesis.
Sentimental Rules is an ambitious and highly interdisciplinary work, which proposes and defends a new theory about the nature and evolution of moral judgment. In it, philosopher Shaun Nichols develops the theory that emotions play a critical role in both the psychological and the cultural underpinnings of basic moral judgment. Nichols argues that our norms prohibiting the harming of others are fundamentally associated with our emotional responses to those harms, and that such 'sentimental rules' enjoy an advantage in cultural evolution, (...) which partly explains the success of certain moral norms. This has sweeping and exciting implications for philosophical ethics. Nichols builds on an explosion of recent intriguing experimental work in psychology on our capacity for moral judgment and shows how this empirical work has broad import for enduring philosophical problems. The result is an account that illuminates fundamental questions about the character of moral emotions and the role of sentiment and reason in how we make our moral judgments. This work should appeal widely across philosophy and the other disciplines that comprise cognitive science. (shrink)
Is it rational to be moral? Can moral disputes be settled rationally? Which criteria determine what we have a good reason to do? In this innovative book, Logi Gunnarsson takes issue with the assumption made by many philosophers faced with the problem of reconciling moral norms with a scientific world view, namely that morality must be offered a non- moral justification based on a formal concept of rationality. He argues that the criteria for the rationality of an action are irreducibly (...) substantive, rather than purely formal, and that assuming that morality must be given a non- moral justification amounts to a distortion of both rationality and morality. His discussion includes substantial critical engagement with major thinkers from two very different philosophical traditions, and is notable for its clear and succinct account of Habermas' discourse ethics. It will appeal to anyone interested in practical reason and the rational credentials of morality. (shrink)
We are often uncertain how to behave morally in complex situations. In this controversial study, Ted Lockhart contends that moral philosophy has failed to address how we make such moral decisions. Adapting decision theory to the task of decision-making under moral uncertainly, he proposes that we should not always act how we feel we ought to act, and that sometimes we should act against what we feel to be morally right. Lockhart also discusses abortion extensively and proposes new ways to (...) deal with the ethical and moral issues which surround it. (shrink)
Non-cognitivists deny that moral judgement is belief but claim instead that it is the expression of an emotional attitude. Standardly, non-cognitivists deny that moral sentences even purport to represent moral reality and so have developed non-standard semantics for moral discourse. Mark Eli Kalderon argues for a version of non-cognitivism that eschews such controversial semantics; morality, he argues, is a fiction by means of which our emotional attitudes are conveyed. His book will be essential reading for anyone working across moral philosophy, (...) epistemology, and philosophy of language. (shrink)
What does it mean for emotion to be well-constituted? What distinguishes good feeling from (just) feeling good? Is there such a distinction at all? The answer to these questions becomes clearer if we realize that for an emotion to be all it seems, it must be responsible as well as responsive to what it is about. It may be that good feeling depends on feeling truly if we are to be really moved, moved in the way that avoids the need (...) for constant, fretful replenishment and reinforcement. To be sound, emotions may need to be capable of genuineness, depth, and other kinds of integrity. And that, in turn, may require certain virtues of mind, such as truthfulness, temperateness, and even courage, that are more familiar at the level of action. The governing aim of this book is to demonstrate that there can be problems of a structural kind with the adequacy of emotions and the emotional life. (shrink)
In Moral Knowledge? New Readings in Moral Epistemology, editors Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Mark Timmons bring together eleven specially commissioned essays by distinguished moral philosophers exploring the nature and possibility of moral knowledge. Each essay represents a major position within the exciting field of moral epistemology in which a proponent of the position presents and defends his or her view and locates it vis-a-vis competing views. The authors include established philosophers such as Peter Railton, Robert Audi, Richard Brandt, and Simon Blackburn, (...) as well as newer voices in the field. Topics covered include moral skepticism, moral truth, projectivism, contractarianism, coherentism, feminist views, quasi-realism, and pragmatism. The lively and clear selections do not presuppose specialized knowledge of philosophy, and the philosophical vocabulary used throughout the anthology is uniform, in order to facilitate understanding by those not familiar with the field. The first chapter includes a sustained critical discussion of the major views represented in the following chapters, thereby furnishing beginning students with appropriate background to understand the selections. The volume is further enhanced by an index and an extensive bibliography. An excellent text for undergraduate and graduate courses, Moral Knowledge provides the most up-to-date work on moral knowledge and justification. (shrink)
Javier Muguerza’s Ethics and Perplexity makes a highly original contribution to the debate over dialogical reason. The work opens with a letter that establishes a parallel between Ethics and Perplexity and Maimonides’s classic Guide of the Perplexed. It concludes with an interview that repeatedly strikes sparks on Spanish philosophy’s emergence from its “long quarantine,” as Muguerza puts it. These informal pieces—witty, informative, conversational—orbit the nucleus of the work: a formidable critique of dialogical reason. The result is a volume by turns (...) vivid and profound. (shrink)
All contentious moral issues--from gay marriage to abortion and affirmative action--raise difficult questions about the justification of moral beliefs. How can we be justified in holding on to our own moral beliefs while recognizing that other intelligent people feel quite differently and that many moral beliefs are distorted by self-interest and by corrupt cultures? Even when almost everyone agrees--e.g. that experimental surgery without consent is immoral--can we know that such beliefs are true? If so, how? These profound questions lead to (...) fundamental issues about the nature of morality, language, metaphysics, justification, and knowledge. They also have tremendous practical importance in handling controversial moral questions in health care ethics, politics, law, and education. Sinnott-Armstrong here provides an extensive overview of these difficult subjects, looking at a wide variety of questions, including: Are any moral beliefs true? Are any justified? What is justified belief? The second half of the book explores various moral theories that have grappled with these issues, such as naturalism, normativism, intuitionism, and coherentism, all of which are attempts to answer moral skepticism. Sinnott-Armstrong argues that all these approaches fail to rule out moral nihilism--the view that nothing is really morally wrong or right, bad or good. Then he develops his own novel theory,--"moderate Pyrrhonian moral skepticism"--which concludes that some moral beliefs can be justified out of a modest contrast class but no moral beliefs can be justified out of an extreme contrast class. While explaining this original position and criticizing alternatives, Sinnott-Armstrong provides a wide-ranging survey of the epistemology of moral beliefs. (shrink)
Practical philosophy and ethics -- Practical tortise raising -- Truth, beauty, and goodness -- Dilemmas: dithering, plumping, and grief -- Group minds and expressive harm -- Trust, cooperation, and human psychology -- Must we weep for sentimentalism? -- Through thick and thin -- Perspectives, fictions, errors, play -- The steps from doing to saying -- Success semantics -- Wittgenstein's irrealism -- Circles, finks, smells, and biconditionals -- The absolute conception: Putnam vs. Williams -- Julius Caesar and George Berkeley play leapfrog (...) -- The majesty of reason -- Fiction and conviction. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Preface; 1. The author and the book; 2. First principles; 3. Causation; 4. Skepticism; 5. Determinism; 6. Passions, sympathy, and others' minds; 7. Motivation: reason and the calm passions; 8. Moral sense, reason, and moral skepticism; 9. The foundations of morals; Bibliography and further reading; Index.
This is the first comprehensive study of the ethics of G. E. Moore, the most important English-speaking ethicist of the twentieth century. Moore's ethical project, set out in his seminal text Principia Ethica, is to preserve common moral insight from skepticism and, in effect, persuade his readers to accept the objective character of goodness. Brian Hutchinson explores Moore's arguments in detail and in the process relates the ethical thought to Moore's anti-skeptical epistemology. Moore was, without perhaps fully realizing it, skeptical (...) about the very enterprise of philosophy itself, and in this regard, as Brian Hutchinson reveals, was much closer in his thinking to Wittgenstein than has been previously realized. This book shows Moore's ethical work to be much richer and more sophisticated than his critics have acknowledged. (shrink)
Two centuries after they were published, Kant's ethical writings are as much admired and imitated as they have ever been, yet serious and long-standing accusations of internal incoherence remain unresolved. Onora O'Neill traces the alleged incoherences to attempts to assimilate Kant's ethical writings to modern conceptions of rationality, action and rights. When the temptation to assimilate is resisted, a strikingly different and more cohesive account of reason and morality emerges. Kant offers a "constructivist" vindication of reason and a moral vision (...) in which obligations are prior to rights and in which justice and virtue are linked. O'Neill begins by reconsidering Kant's conceptions of philosophical method, reason, freedom, autonomy and action. She then moves on to the more familiar terrain of interpretation of the Categorical Imperative, while in the last section she emphasizes differences between Kant's ethics and recent "Kantian" ethics, including the work of John Rawls and other contemporary liberal political philosophers. (shrink)
Jesse Prinz argues that recent work in philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology supports two radical hypotheses about the nature of morality: moral values are based on emotional responses, and these emotional responses are inculcated by culture, not hard-wired through natural selection. In the first half of the book, Jesse Prinz defends the hypothesis that morality has an emotional foundation. Evidence from brain imaging, social psychology, and psychopathology suggest that, when we judge something to be right or wrong, we are merely expressing (...) our emotions. Prinz argues that these emotions do not track objective features of reality; rather, the rightness and wrongness of an act consists in the fact that people are disposed to have certain emotions towards it. In the second half of the book, he turns to a defense of moral relativism. Moral facts depend on emotional responses, and emotional responses vary from culture to culture. Prinz surveys the anthropological record to establish moral variation, and he draws on cultural history to show how attitudes toward practices such as cannibalism and marriage change over time. He also criticizes evidence from animal behavior and child development that has been taken to support the claim that moral attitudes are hard-wired by natural selection. Prinz concludes that there is no single true morality, but he also argues that some moral values are better than others; moral progress is possible. Throughout the book, Prinz relates his views to contemporary and historical work in philosophical ethics. His views echo themes in the writings of David Hume and Friedrich Nietzsche, but Prinz supports, extends, and revises these classic theories using the resources of cutting-edge cognitive science. The Emotional Construction of Morals will stimulate and challenge anyone who is curious about the nature and origin of moral values. (shrink)
Ethics Done Right examines how practical reasoning can be put into the service of ethical and moral theory. Elijah Millgram shows that the key to thinking about ethics is to understand generally how to make decisions. The papers in this volume support a methodological approach and trace the connections between two kinds of theory in utilitarianism, in Kantian ethics, in virtue ethics, in Hume's moral philosophy, and in moral particularism. Unlike other studies of ethics, Ethics Done Right does not advocate (...) a particular moral theory. Rather, it offers a tool that enables one to decide for oneself. (shrink)
Introduction -- What is personal responsibility? -- Ordinary language -- Common conceptions -- What do philosophers mean by responsibility? -- Personally responsible for what? -- What do philosophers think? part I -- Causes -- Capacity -- Control -- Choice versus brute luck -- Second-order attitudes -- Equality of opportunity -- Deservingness -- Reasonableness -- Reciprocity -- Equal shares -- Combining criteria -- What do philosophers think? part II -- Utility -- Self-respect -- Autonomy -- Human flourishing -- Natural duties and (...) special obligations -- A matter of perspectives -- Combining values -- What do politicians think? -- A brief typology -- International comparisons -- Welfare reform -- Healthcare reform -- Rights and responsibilities -- On the responsibilities of politicians -- What do ordinary people think? -- Why ask? -- Attitudes to welfare claimants -- When push comes to shove -- Perceptions and reality -- Further international comparisons -- The trouble with opinion surveys -- Four contemporary issues in focus -- Unemployment -- Health -- Drug abuse -- Personal debt and financial rewards -- So how do we decide? -- Getting the public involved -- Citizens juries -- Answering some potential criticisms. (shrink)
Introduction -- Instrumental rationality -- Social order -- Deontic constraint -- Intentional states -- Preference noncognitivism -- A naturalistic perspective -- Transcendental necessity -- Weakness of will -- Normative ethics.
Moral relativism attracts and repels. What is defensible in it and what is to be rejected? Do we as human beings have no shared standards by which we can understand one another? Can we abstain from judging one another's practices? Do we truly have divergent views about what constitutes good and evil, virtue and vice, harm and welfare, dignity and humiliation, or is there some underlying commonality that trumps it all? These questions turn up everywhere, from Montaigne's essay on cannibals, (...) to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, to the debate over female genital mutilation. They become ever more urgent with the growth of mass immigration, the rise of religious extremism, the challenges of Islamist terrorism, the rise of identity politics, and the resentment at colonialism and the massive disparities of wealth and power between North and South. Are human rights and humanitarian interventions just the latest form of cultural imperialism? By what right do we judge particular practices as barbaric? Who are the real barbarians? In this provocative new book, the distinguished social theorist Steven Lukes takes an incisive and enlightening look at these and other challenging questions and considers the very foundations of what we believe, why we believe it, and whether there is a profound discord between "us" and "them.". (shrink)