Moral Passages: Toward a Collectivist Moral Theory

Routledge (1994)
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In Moral Passages, Kathryn Pyne Addelson presents an original moral theory suited for contemporary life and its moral problems. Her basic principle is that knowledge and morality are generated in collective action, and she develops it through a critical examination of theories in philosophy, sociology and women's studies, most of which hide the collective nature and as a result hide the lives and knowledge of many people. At issue are the questions of what morality is, and how moral theories (whether traditional or feminist) are implemented. Addelson takes up a large number of historical cases and contemporary social problems, including teen pregnancy, contraception and abortion, and gay rights. These cases allow her to see how the knowledge and lives of some people are declared deviant or immoral, while those of others appear to show the public consensus. One case she uses throughout the book is Margaret Sanger's early work on birth control with the anarcho-syndicalist movement--a revisionist history that reveals rather than hides the collective nature of morality and knowledge. Addelson shows how the usual individualist philosophies promote theories which hide the authority of the professionals who make them. A collectivist approach, she argues, must show the part professionals play in collective action. Her aim is to allow professional knowledge makers to be morally and intellectually responsible. Based on Addelson's twenty years of work in feminist philosophy and interactionist sociology as well as her long-standing involvement in women's community organization, Moral Passages investigates how morality and knowledge are collectively enacted in today's world.



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