Many otherwise enlightened people often dismiss etiquette as a trivial subject or—worse yet—as nothing but a disguise for moral hypocrisy or unjust social hierarchies. Such sentiments either mistakenly assume that most manners merely frame the “real issues” of any interpersonal exchange or are the ugly vestiges of outdated, unfair social arrangements. But in _On Manners_, Karen Stohr turns the tables on these easy prejudices, demonstrating that the scope of manners is much broader than most people realize and that manners lead (...) directly to the roots of enduring ethical questions. Stohr suggests that though manners are mostly conventional, they are nevertheless authoritative insofar as they are a primary means by which we express moral attitudes and commitments and carry out important moral goals. Drawing primarily on Aristotle and Kant and with references to a wide range of cultural examples—from Jane Austen’s _Pride and Prejudice_ to Larry David’s _Curb Your Enthusiasm_—the author ultimately concludes that good manners are essential to moral character. (shrink)
Common sense tells us that in certain circumstances, helping someone is morally obligatory. That intuition appears incompatible with Kant's account of beneficence as a wide imperfect duty, and its implication that agents may exercise latitude over which beneficent actions to perform. In this paper, I offer a resolution to the problem from which it follows that some opportunities to help admit latitude and others do not. I argue that beneficence has two components: the familiar wide duty to help others achieve (...) their ends and a narrow duty to avoid indifference to others as end-setters. Although we are not always required to help, we are always required not to be indifferent. When helping someone is the only way not to be indifferent to a person, helping him/her is obligatory. My account avoids certain difficulties with other proposed solutions and can also address an important concern about proximity. (shrink)
This article explores and defends the idea that the etiquette conventions governing dinner parties, whether formal or informal, have moral significance. Their significance derives from the way that they foster and facilitate shared moral aims. I draw on literary and philosophical sources to make this claim, beginning with Isak Dineson's short story, Babette's Feast. I employ the concept of ritual from Confucius and Xunzi, as well as Immanuel Kant's detailed discussion of dinner parties in the Anthropology. Kant's account in particular (...) helps illuminate how properly conducted dinners can enhance our understanding and promote moral community among the people who attend. I conclude that dinner parties play an important role in the moral life, and that the etiquette conventions governing them derive their binding force from their contribution to that role. (shrink)
In this paper I describe and defend an account of virtuous motivation that differs from what we might call ordinary moral motivation. It is possible to be morally motivated without being virtuously motivated. In the first half of the essay, I explore different senses of moral motivation and the philosophical puzzles and problems it poses. In the second half, I give an account of virtuous motivation that, unlike ordinary moral motivation, requires the motivational structure characteristic of a fully virtuous person. (...) I draw on Aristotle's account of virtuous action to argue that a fully virtuous agent's judgment reflects a robust form of moral knowledge about what features of an action render it virtuous and hence, choiceworthy. Virtuously motivated actions are chosen in light of those features and are accompanied by the affective state appropriate to the overall moral landscape in which the judgment is made. (shrink)
Contemporary virtue ethicists widely accept thethesis that a virtuous agent''s feelings shouldbe in harmony with her judgments about what sheshould do and that she should find virtuousaction easy and pleasant. Conflict between anagent''s feelings and her actions, by contrast,is thought to indicate mere continence – amoral deficiency. This ``harmony thesis'''' isgenerally taken to be a fundamental element ofAristotelian virtue ethics.I argue that the harmony thesis, understoodthis way, is mistaken, because there areoccasions where a virtuous agent will findright action painful and (...) difficult. What thismeans is that the generally accepteddistinction between continence and virtue isunsupportable. This conclusion affects severalwell-known accounts of virtuous action,including those of Philippa Foot and JohnMcDowell. A closer look at Aristotle, however, providesanother way of distinguishing betweencontinence and virtue, based in hiscategorization of goods as noble or base. Iargue that virtue is exhibited when anagent''s feelings harmonize with his correctjudgments of value, while discrepancies betweenfeelings and correct judgments of valueindicate continence. This understanding ofcontinence and virtue enables us to accommodatethe problem cases I raise. (shrink)
In this paper I defend a little noted claim of Kant’s — that we should “keep the shutters closed” on our flaws and failings. Kant’s own arguments for this claim aren’t fully satisfactorily, and they rest primarily on pragmatic considerations. My aim in this paper is to provide a more robust Kantian-inspired argument for the moral value of reserve. I argue that collaborating with others to keep the shutters closed on our individual and collective flaws aids in the difficult task (...) of building and maintaining moral community among morally frail and flawed human beings. The paper consists of three parts. In Part I, I examine what Kant himself says about reserve. In Part II, I present a Kantian-inspired argument for the moral value of reserve, drawing on sociologist Erving Goffman’s concept of a front. Moral fronts, I argue, contribute to the fulfillment of the Kantian duties of moral self-improvement and beneficence. To put it differently, they help us instantiate the kingdom of ends in a world of imperfect human beings. In Part III, I address three objections to my argument: that fronts are deceptive, that they actually interfere with moral self-improvement, and that they preclude morally valuable forms of intimacy. I argue that my account can accommodate these concerns. (shrink)
Given the continued popularity of virtue ethics, it is appropriate to evaluate its impact on normative theory and its ability to fulfill its promise as a new approach to ethics. In this paper, we review three new books by prominent virtue ethicists: Morals from Motives by Michael Slote, On Virtue Ethics by Rosalind Hursthouse, and Natural Goodness by Philippa Foot. We also assess the ability of virtue ethics to respond to three standard objections to the theory. Our conclusion is that (...) although more work needs to be done, virtue ethics has considerable promise as a competitor to other normative theories. (shrink)
The book is an exploration of how we narrow the gap between our moral ideals and our actual selves. It develops an account of moral improvement as a practical project requiring what Karen Stohr calls a "moral neighborhood." Moral neighborhoods are constructed through social practices that instantiate shared moral ideals in a flawed world.
I take up reflections on my book, On Manners, by Professors Van Norden, Cline, and Olberding. In response to Professor Van Norden, I further explain and defend my employment of Kant, arguing that Kantianism offers distinctive and valuable resources for thinking about manners. I suggest similarities between Kant and Xunzi 荀子. In response to Professor Cline, I take up the question of the developmental function of manners and explore in further detail the ways in which our social roles both give (...) us standing to perform certain ritual actions and also make demands on us about whether and how we perform them. In response to Professor Olberding, I revisit one of the themes from the book, virtuous hospitality. I argue that we may have moral reason to adapt ourselves and our practices to certain aesthetic standards for domestic activities, rather than adjust the standards to suit our individual tastes. (shrink)
What do we do when a loved one is seriously messing up her life? While Kantianism describes the predicament nicely as a tension between love and respect, it is not well-suited to resolving it. Kantian respect prevents minding another’s business in cases where love demands it. Virtue ethics can readily explain the predicament as a tension between the virtues of sympathy and humility. Moreover, by changing the focus away from the other as a setter of ends and toward the would-be-benefactor’s (...) own degree of practical wisdom, virtue ethics permits a more nuanced set of loving responses to self-destructive people. (shrink)
Within contemporary ethics, virtue ethics now seems to be permanently positioned as a major normative theory. Despite its popularity, however, it is often not very clear – even to virtue ethicists – what is included in the term. This article clarifies the territory by setting out some recent developments in virtue ethics. The article also explores the impact of the virtue ethics revival on metaethics and looks at the direction of future debate.
This essay aims to construct a relationship between Aristotle's account of friendship in the Nicomachean Ethics and the ideal of companionship articulated and lived out by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order. Although on the surface, it may seem as though Aristotelian friendship and Ignatian companionship have little in common, given that the accounts were developed in such different contexts, I argue that there are similarities worth exploring. Taken together, the accounts can help illuminate the good (...) of friendship as we experience it in the current age. The essay has three parts. In Part I, I set out Aristotle's account of friendship, focusing especially on his claims about shared activity in friendship and the role that friends play in times of suffering and bad fortune. In Part II, I turn to the Ignatian idea of companionship, both as he wrote about it and as he lived it. Ignatian spirituality takes it as a given that human life often follows a very rocky and difficult path. The spiritual practices of the Ignatian tradition are designed to help us cultivate the dispositions and habits necessary to sustain us through those experiences of grief, agony, and isolation. Those same dispositions and habits, I will suggest, also enable us to sustain our friends and be good companions during times of both joy and despair. In Part III, I will draw these two accounts together and consider what friendship on this Aristotelian-Ignatian model might look like today. Here I will focus on the ways in which friends are companions to each other during the despair and isolation occasioned by serious illness, trauma, and death. Both Aristotle and Ignatius have important insights into the value and function of friendship in these moments, insights that can help us think through the contemporary version of the same problem. (shrink)
Virtue ethics is now well established as a substantive, independent normative theory. It was not always so. The revival of virtue ethics was initially spurred by influential criticisms of other normative theories, especially those made by Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, John McDowell, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Bernard Williams. 1 Because of this heritage, virtue ethics is often associated with anti-theory movements in ethics and more recently, moral particularism. There are, however, quite a few different approaches to ethics that can reasonably claim (...) to be versions of virtue ethics. The predominant strand of virtue ethics is broadly Aristotelian, although some accounts bear little resemblance to Aristotle's. In its most general form, virtue ethics is compatible with a wide range of meta-ethical and normative commitments. This diversity makes it difficult to compare virtue ethics as such with other normative theories. It can also be a challenge to see just what the various versions of virtue ethics have in common with each other. Three major types of virtue ethics are represented in the books by Rosalind Hursthouse, Michael Slote, and Christine Swanton, recommended in the following section. Each of these book sets forward a considerably self-standing form of virtue ethics. The authors differ on central issues such as the relationship between virtue and flourishing and the link between virtuous agents and right or virtuous actions. Unlike Swanton and Slote, Hursthouse defends a version of ethical naturalism that has affinities with theories recently defended by Philippa Foot and Alasdair MacIntyre. 2 Slote's theory is agent-based, meaning that his account derives judgments about the moral status of actions from moral features of agents. Hursthouse and Swanton defend theories according to which the moral status of an action depends on its broader relationship to human flourishing (Hursthouse) or whether it hits the target of a virtue (Swanton). Although these three books presently form the core of contemporary virtue ethics, there are other approaches that might reasonably be described as versions of virtue ethics, such as those presented by Julia Driver, Linda Zagzebski, and Robert Adams. 3 There are also, of course, a large number of articles in which authors defend or criticize tenets that are central to most versions of virtue ethics. Some recent articles on especially important topics are listed in the following section. Current 'hot topics' in virtue ethics include whether its account of right action is adequate and whether virtue ethics is at odds with empirical psychology. Articles on these debates and others are listed in the following section. Author Recommends: Books These three books are foundational works in contemporary virtue ethics, and represent quite different approaches to virtue ethics. For each book, I have also listed an article by the same author in which he or she articulates some similar themes. Those pressed for time or space on a syllabus might start by examining those articles. 1. Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Hursthouse defends a eudaimonistic version of virtue ethics with Aristotelian affinities. *See also Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Normative Virtue Ethics.' How Should One Live? Ed. Roger Crisp. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. 19–36. 2. Slote, Michael. Morals from Motives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Slote defends a version of virtue ethics based on evaluations of motives, drawing on historical figures like Martineau, Hutcheson, and Hume. Note that this book represents a fairly significant departure from his first book in virtue ethics, From Morality to Virtue (New York: Oxford, 1992). *See also Slote, Michael. 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics.' Virtue Ethics . Ed. Roger Crisp and Michael Slote. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. 3. Swanton, Christine. Virtue Ethics: A Pluralistic View. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Swanton defends a pluralistic, non-eudaimonistic version of virtue ethics that draws on influences ranging from Aristotle to Nietzsche to contemporary psychoanalytic theory. *See also Swanton, Christine. 'A Virtue Ethical Account of Right Action.' Ethics 112 (2001): 32–52. Articles The following is a selection of articles that address some of the central and controversial topics within virtue ethics. 1. Annas, Julia. 'Being Virtuous and Doing the Right Thing.' Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 78.2 (2004): 61–75. This article addresses the problem of action guidance and the role that an account of right action should play in virtue ethics. 2. Conly, Sarah. 'Flourishing and the Failure of the Ethics of Virtue.' Midwest Studies in Philosophy Vol. XIII, Ethical Theory: Character and Virtue . Eds. P. French et al. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988. 83–96. This article articulates the central problems faced by versions of virtue ethics that rely on a conception of human flourishing. 3. Das, Ramon. 'Virtue Ethics and Right Action.' Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (2003): 324–39. This article raises objections about insularity and circularity to accounts of right action presented by Hursthouse, Slote, and Swanton. 4. Doris, John M. 'Persons, Situations, and Virtue Ethics.' Nous 32 (1998): 504–30. This article argues that situationist psychology undermines the concept of a character trait on which virtue ethicists rely. An expanded version of this criticism can be found in Doris, Lack of Character, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 5. Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Virtue Theory and Abortion.' Philosophy and Public Affairs 20.3 (1991): 223–46. This article argues that virtue ethics is capable of providing action guidance in the difficult problem of abortion. 6. Johnson, Robert N. 'Virtue and Right.' Ethics 113 (2003): 810–34. This article raises several objections against the accounts of right action in virtue ethics, one of which is that they cannot make sense of the rightness of self-improving actions. The criticism is directly primarily at Hursthouse's theory, but Swanton and Slote are discussed as well. 7. Kamtekar, Rachana. 'Situationism and Virtue Ethics on the Content of Our Character.' Ethics 114 (2004): 458–91. This article argues that situationist critiques of virtue ethics rely on a mistaken understanding of virtuous character. 8. Kawall, Jason. 'Virtue Theory and Ideal Observers.' Philosophical Studies 109 (2002): 197– 222. This article argues for an ideal observer-style account of right action in virtue ethics. 9. Nussbaum, Martha. 'Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach.' Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol. XIII, Ethical Theory: Character and Virtue . Ed. P. French et al. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988. 32–53. This article presents a view of the virtues on which the virtues are excellences in spheres of activity. Although the spheres are common to all humans, the manifestation of excellence in a given sphere is subject to cultural variation. 10. Sreenivasan, Gopal. 'Errors about Errors: Virtue Theory and Trait Attribution.' Mind 111 (2002): 47–68. This article addresses the situationist critique of character traits by arguing that virtue ethics does not depend on the concept of a character trait as Doris and others understand it. 11. Stangl, Rebecca. 'A Dilemma for Particularist Virtue Ethics.' Philosophical Quarterly 58 (2008): 665–78. This article addresses the relationship between virtue ethics and radical moral particularism, arguing that the latter may have undesirable consequences for virtue ethicists unless they accept the unity of the virtues. 12. Stohr, Karen. 'Contemporary Virtue Ethics.' Philosophy Compass 1.1 (January 2006): 22–7. This article provides an overview and analysis of contemporary virtue ethics. It includes discussion of main problems and challenges for the future. 13. Stohr, Karen. 'Moral Cacophony: When Continence is a Virtue.' Journal of Ethics 7 (2003): 339–63. This article raises problems for the commonly accepted distinction between virtue and continence, arguing that the mixed emotions normally associated with continence are sometimes characteristic of virtue instead. 14. van Zyl, Liezl. 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics and the Problem of Action Guidance.' Journal of Moral Philosophy 6 (2009): 50–69. This article defends agent-based virtue ethics against objections that it cannot distinguish agent-appraisal from act-appraisal and that it cannot provide adequate action guidance. Anthologies 1. Crisp, Roger, ed. How Should One Live? Essays on the Virtues. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. This is one of the first virtue ethics anthologies published, and so reflects a correspondingly earlier picture of the field. The essays, however, are important and interesting in their own right, and cover a broad array of topics. 2. Crisp, Roger and Michael Slote, eds. Virtue Ethics . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. This anthology was published over a decade ago and does not capture recent developments in the field. It is, however, an admirably thorough collection of the most influential essays from the early days of virtue ethics, both promoting and criticizing it. 3. Darwall, Stephen, ed. Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003. This anthology is distinctive in that it includes material from Aristotle, Hutcheson, and Hume, along with some central contemporary sources. 4. Walker, Rebecca L. and Philip J. Ivanhoe, eds. Working Virtue. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. This recent anthology focuses on applied virtue ethics and has an excellent selection of essays by influential thinkers on topics including the environment, business, medicine, war, and poverty. Online Sources 'Virtue Ethics', Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-virtue/ Entry written by Rosalind Hursthouse and updated in 2007. 'Bibliography on Virtue Ethics', maintained by Jörg Schroth. http://www.ethikseite.de/bib/cvirtue.pdf Extensive list of work published in virtue ethics. Updated regularly, listed in both alphabetical and chronological order, and contains abstracts of papers. 'Janusblog', maintained by Guy Axtell. http://janusblog.squarespace.com/ Blog devoted to current work in virtue ethics and virtue epistemology, although with an emphasis on the latter. It contains spirited discussion among the many contributors, as well as a library of papers. Sample Syllabus This syllabus is for a graduate seminar or intense upper-level undergraduate course. Books for purchase for this course might include the Crisp and Slote anthology, the Walker and Ivanhoe anthology, and Hursthouse's On Virtue Ethics. Week 1: The Roots of Contemporary Virtue Ethics Anscombe, Elizabeth. 'Modern Moral Philosophy' (Crisp and Slote) Foot, Philippa. 'Virtues and Vices' (Crisp and Slote) MacIntyre, Alasdair. 'The Nature of the Virtues' (Crisp and Slote) Week 2: The Roots of Contemporary Virtue Ethics Stocker, Michael. 'The Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories' (Crisp and Slote) Williams, Bernard. 'Morality, the Peculiar Institution' (Crisp and Slote) McDowell, John. 'Virtue and Reason' (Crisp and Slote) Week 3: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics, Part I Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Practical Wisdom: A Mundane Account.' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106.3 (2006): 283–307. Stangl, Rebecca. 'A Dilemma for Particularist Virtue Ethics' Week 4: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics, Part II Stark, Susan. 'Virtue and Emotion.' Nous 33.5 (2001): 440–55. Stohr, Karen. 'Moral Cacophony: When Continence is a Virtue' Week 5: Aristotelian Virtue Ethics Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics, Part III Conly, Sarah. 'Flourishing and the Failure of an Ethics of Virtue' Nussbaum, Martha. 'Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach' MacIntyre, Alasdair. Dependent Rational Animals, chapter 10 Week 6: Agent-Based Virtue Ethics Slote, Michael 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics' (Crisp and Slote) Slote, Michael, Morals from Motives, chapters 1 and 3 Week 7: Pluralistic Virtue Ethics Swanton, Christine. Virtue Ethics: A Pluralistic View , chapters 3, 4, and 11. Week 8: The Situationist Critique of Virtue Ethics Doris, John. 'Persons, Situations, and Virtue Ethics' Kamtekar, Rachana. 'Situationism and Virtue Ethics on the Content of Our Character' Sreenivasan, Gopal. 'Errors about Errors: Virtue Theory and Trait Attribution' Merritt, Maria. 'Aristotelian Virtue and the Interpersonal Aspect of Ethical Character.' Journal of Moral Philosophy 6 (2009): 23–49. Week 11: Right Action – Problems Johnson, Robert. 'Virtue and Right' Das, Ramon. 'Virtue Ethics and Right Action' Week 12: Right Action – Virtue Ethics Solutions Annas, Julia. 'Being Virtuous and Doing the Right Thing' van Zyl, Liezl. 'Agent-Based Virtue Ethics and the Problem of Action Guidance' Kawall, Jason. 'Virtue Theory and Ideal Observers' Week 13: Virtue Ethics and Professional Roles Pelligrino, Edmund. 'Professing Medicine, Virtue Based Ethics, and the Retrieval of Professionalism' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Swanton, Christine. 'Virtue Ethics, Role Ethics, and Business Ethics' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Sherman, Nancy. 'Virtue and a Warrier's Anger' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Week 14: Virtue Ethics and the Non-Human World Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Environmental Virtue Ethics' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Walker, Rebecca. 'The Good Life for Non-Human Animals: What Virtue Requires of Humans' (Walker and Ivanhoe) Focus Questions 1. What is the relationship between virtue and flourishing? Are the virtues necessary for flourishing? Sufficient? 2. Can virtue ethics provide an adequate account of right action? 3. On what concept of a character trait does virtue ethics rely, and does situationist psychology undermine it? 4. Is the project of ethical naturalism a plausible one? To what extent does the success of Aristotelian virtue ethics depend on it? 5. How does virtue ethics affect the way that applied ethics is done? (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that within Kantianism, widespread indifference of the global rich to the suffering of the global poor should be understood as resulting at least partly from vice. Kant had much more to say about vice than is often recognized, and it forms a crucial part of his moral anthropology. Kantians should thus attend to the ways in which vice functions as a practical obstacle to fulfilling duties of beneficence. In vice-fueled indifference, inclinations associated with self-love and (...) self-conceit work their way into our wills, interfering with our moral commitments by impeding our ability to recognize moral requirements and our motivation to act on them. Vice distorts our reasoning in ways that promote self-deception and rationalization about the extent to which we are fulfilling moral demands. Kantian vice also has social dimensions. I argue that widespread indifference exacerbates our individual vices through social norms and practices that legitimize ignoring the needs of others. I conclude by offering some potential remedies to indifference within the Kantian framework. (shrink)
An exploration of everything Kant's philosophy can teach us about being the best people we can be, from using our human reasoning to its fullest potential to being affably drunk at dinner parties. Immanuel Kant is well known as one of the towering figures of Western philosophical history, but he is less well known for his savvy advice about hosting dinner parties. This philosophical genius was a man of many interests and talents: his famously formal and abstract ethical system is (...) only part of his story. But Kant not only made a profound impact on how people think about big questions like how to treat one another -- he also offered wise insights on things people confront in everyday life: things like gossip, friendship, manners, self-respect, cheerfulness, gratitude, mockery, contempt, and yes, dinner parties. In this book, philosopher Karen Stohr shows how Kant's whole ethical picture fits together. It's a picture that is as relevant and useful now as it was in the 18th century--and maybe even more so. A Kantian way of living means using reason to guide your choices so that your life reflects your true nature as a free, rational being. This nature is one we share with others; Kantianism emphasizes the fundamental dignity and equality of each person. It presents an ideal for how we should live together without downplaying the challenges we face in the actual world. Though realistic about human weaknesses, Kant remained optimistic about our capacities and possibilities. He had great faith in the ability of human reason to point us in the direction of moral progress and to get us there. Each of us has the power within us to know and choose the right path--we just have to be willing to make that choice, and to discover how worthwhile life can be in the process. (shrink)
The paper considers the moral constraints on speaking invitations and honors at Catholic colleges and universities. I argue that the Catholic moral framework does not support the current trend at many Catholic institutions toward restricting speakers to those who accept a narrow range of moral views. I employ standard Catholic philosophical principles, including double effect and cooperation, to defend the claim that Catholic institutions can at least sometimes legitimately bestow honors on pro-choice politicians.
Christine Overall’s book, Why Have Children?: The Ethical Debate, begins with what would seem like an obvious point—that there are better and worse reasons to have a child. Given that that the well-being of a vulnerable and dependent creature hangs on the choice, it surely requires justification. And yet, as she illustrates, philosophers have been comparatively silent about what that justification could or should look like. In this lucid and comprehensive book, Overall sets out to remedy that situation and offer (...) what in the end is a moral justification for having (no more than two) children.The overarching aim of the book is to explore the moral landscape around the choice to have children. Quite reasonably .. (shrink)
This paper is about a category of social conventions that, I will argue, have significant moral implications. The category consists in our conventions about what we notice and choose not to notice about persons, features of persons, and their circumstances. We normally do not think much about what we notice about others, and what they notice about us, but I will argue that we should. Noticing people is a way of engaging with them in social contexts. We can engage in (...) social noticing more or less respectfully, more or less benevolently. Moreover, our standard conventions about noticing often have disparate effects on different groups of people. To be noticed appropriately is to have one's moral and social standing affirmed; conversely, to be denied notice or to be noticed inappropriately is very often to be denigrated or objectified. My aim in this paper is to unpack these moral dimensions of conventions of noticing and discuss their implications for how people engage with each other in certain kinds of social exchanges involving persons with disabilities. In Part I, I explain what I mean by the conventions of noticing and how they operate in social interactions. I show that although we do not always attend to them, these conventions are thoroughly embedded in our everyday social life. In Part II, I argue that these conventions have important moral dimensions and as such, should be governed by moral principles and values. I employ a Kantian framework of duties of love and respect in order to show how moral concerns should shape the way we use conventions of noticing and respond to their use by others. In Part III, I draw out the implications of this picture for social interactions among strangers when one or more of the parties involved has an immediately visible disability. (shrink)