Review of Metaphysics 75 (2):345-373 (2021)

Jack Samuel
New York University
Iris Murdoch’s The Sovereignty of Good—especially the first essay, “The Idea of Perfection”—is often associated with a critique of a certain picture of agency and its proper place in ethical thought. There is implicit in this critique, however, an alternative, much richer one. I propose a reading of Murdochian agency in terms of the continuous activity of cultivating and refining a distinctive practical standpoint, and I apply this reading to her account of moral progress. For Murdoch moral progress depends on transcending egoism and achieving clear perception of a normatively-saturated reality, but it would be a mistake to think of egoism in terms of selfishness, or clarity in terms of altruism. Rather, I argue, Murdochian moral progress requires overcoming socially-conditioned and often ideological forms of alienation, and making the social conditions that inform our practical standpoints self-conscious.
Keywords Iris Murdoch  Agency  Alienation  Ideology  Moral Perception
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References found in this work BETA

Mind and World.John McDowell - 1994 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
The Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - Cambridge University Press.

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