Morals and Their Ironies

Journal of Religious Ethics 26 (2):367 - 388 (1998)
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The moral use of irony cannot be made a universal critical tool isolated from its situatedness in history and disconnected from the social conventions shared by ironists and their audiences. Linking irony with alienation, Reinhold Niebuhr and Richard Rorty attribute to irony an inherently critical stance, yet in practice they limit the voices that can articulate moral irony and they reinforce modernist notions of agency. The author rejects their positions and turns to humorous irony to identify more complex and ambiguous relations between morals and ironies and to challenge the rhetorical history of modernist alienated agency.



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