Speaking Rationally About the Good: Karol Wojtyła on Being and the Normative Order


Authors
Paul Kucharski
Manhattanville College
Abstract
In this paper, I explain and defend Karol Wojtyła’s claim that “if we wish to speak rationally about good and evil, we have to return to the philosophyof being. If we do not set out from such ‘realist’ presuppositions, we end up in a vacuum.” I begin by outlining Wojtyła’s existential understanding of the good,according to which the good for x is found in those ends that complete the being that is lacking in x, or that enhance its existence in keeping with its nature. Then I explain how Wojtyła moves from an existentialunderstanding of the good to the thesis that “exemplarism is the very heart of the normative order.” Finally, using representative thinkers from both the Continentaland Analytic traditions, I defend Wojtyła’s claim that when we divorce goodness from being we end up in a moral vacuum, in a kind of nihilism wherethe good signifies nothing other than the rationalized articulation of one’s subjective needs, desires, or wishes. In such a state, the only means for resolving moraldisagreements is through the consensus of the majority or the forceful rule of the strongest will.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Philosophy and Religion
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ISBN(s) 1426-1898
DOI 10.5840/forphil2015203
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