The integrity of exacerbated ambiguity

Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 108 (3):469-482 (2016)
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Abstract

Although Thomas More is an exemplary figure of both personal and moral integrity, his Utopia is not straightforwardly ‘integer’ in another meaning of the term, i.e., it does not unequivocally describe a ‘whole, intact or pure’ conception of the ideal society. Rather, Utopia is patently ambiguous and challenges the reader to disambiguate the narrative and to make up his own mind on how to construct the ideal society. In this paper, I analyze utopias and dystopias in general as evaluative thought experiments that appeal to our imagination and deploy possible worlds. Subsequently, I argue that More’s Utopia is a successful evaluative thought experiment that actually underscores More’s integrity, because by means of its exacerbated ambiguity, it both triggers and properly respects the deliberation and evaluation of the reader in his capacity as thought experimenter.

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