Steven Fesmire
Radford University
Contemporary moral theorists are increasingly attentive to the ways human beings actually make sense of their moral experience and compose meaningful lives. Martha Nussbaum's re-introduction of Aristotelian practical wisdom and Alasdair MacIntyre's emphasis on narrativity are good examples of a shift in focus away from tedious polemics about the single "right thing to do" in a situation. But recent theorists have tended to lack a highly articulated philosophical framework--especially a full-blooded theory of moral belief and deliberation--that would enable us better to wend our way along the trails they have blazed. We are born, MacIntyre proclaims, with a social past, a tradition into which we grow. Yet MacIntyre advances a new moral vision independent of recent philosophical traditions that might accommodate and direct his own insights and inquiries. Classical American pragmatism, especially as developed by John Dewey, provides a framework that can clarify and extend the achievements of contemporary moral theory. I contend that a thoroughgoing reconstruction of our moral vision would profit immensely from looking back to Dewey's theory of moral understanding. I propose here to articulate the center of vision of this theory by developing a Deweyan conception of deliberation as imaginative dramatic rehearsal.
Keywords moral deliberation  Moral philosophy  Dewey  moral imagination  Moral psychology  Moral theory  Moral education  Aesthetics  Dramatic rehearsal  Pragmatism
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