Plural and conflicting values are often held to be conceptually problematic, threatening the very possibility of ethics, or at least rational ethics. Rejecting this view, Stocker first demonstrates why it is so important to understand the issues raised by plural and conflicting values, focusing on Aristotle's treatment of them. He then shows that plurality and conflict are commonplace and generally unproblematic features of our everyday choice and action, and that they do allow for a sound and rational ethics.
Confucius, Plato, and Aristotle would agree on three propositions: genuine virtue represents a kind of second nature, a result of education such that patterns of choice become natural and predictable that would not be natural and predictable for the average person; there are patterns of gratification attendant on genuine virtue, that involve deeper values than most of the things that people pursue in life; and because of these, genuine virtue is always in a person's self-interest. The word “gratification” here is (...) deliberately broad. There can be brief periods of satisfaction, with performances that enjoyably are going well; these would amount to refined pleasures. But there also can be an agreeable sense of having come to terms with oneself, with no sense of self-disapproval or keen regret. This can be an important element in happiness. (shrink)
Does a woman's being repeatedly battered by her husband excuse her killing him while he was asleep? This and similar questions are often dealt with by asking a more general question, “Should we accept abuse excuses? ” These questions engender a lot of heat, but little light, in the media and other public forums, and even in the writings of many theorists. They have been discussed as if there is a typical abuse excuse we can examine in order to examine (...) abuse excuses in general. Similarly, the question of whether we should accept abuse excuses has often been discussed as if it is simple and straightforward. But there is no one typical abuse excuse, and the question of whether to accept such excuses is neither simple nor straightforward. There are many different abuse excuses, many different circumstances in which they are deployed, and many different sorts of concerns motivating their use. In this, abuse excuses are just like other, well-accepted excuses, such as self-defense. (shrink)
Neu's work is splendid. In addition to offering wonderfully illuminating characterizations of various emotions, it helps show that these individual characterizations, rather than an overall characterization of emotions or affectivity, have always been Neu's main concern. Nonetheless he is concerned with specific instances of, and often the general nature of, affectivity: what differentiates mere thoughts, desires, and values from emotions where the complex is affectively charged. I argue that his accounts of affectivity do not succeed — in that they can (...) be satisfied by what is affectless. (shrink)