Epiphanies is a philosophical exploration of epiphanies, peak experiences, 'wow moments', or ecstasies as they are sometimes called. What are epiphanies, and why do so many people so frequently experience them? Are they just transient phenomena in our brains, or are they the revelations of objective value that they very often seem to be? What do they tell us about the world, and about ourselves? How, if at all, do epiphanies fit in with our moral systems and our theories of (...) how to live? And how do epiphanic experiences fit in with the rest of our lives? These are Sophie Grace Chappell's questions in this ground-breaking new study of an area of inquiry that has always been right under our noses, but remains surprisingly under-explored in contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
Sophie Grace Chappell develops a picture of what philosophical ethics can be like, once set aside from the idealising and reductive pressures of conventional moral theory. Her question is 'How are we to know what to do?', and the answer she defends is 'By developing our moral imaginations'.
I propose a programme of research in ethical philosophy, into the peak-experiences or wow-moments that I, following James Joyce and others, call epiphanies. As a first pass, I characterize an epiphany as an (1) overwhelming (2) existentially significant manifestation of (3) value, (4) often sudden and surprising, (5) which feels like it “comes from outside” – it is something given, relative to which I am a passive perceiver – which (6) teaches us something new, which (7) “takes us out of (...) ourselves”, and which (8) demands a response. Often the correct response is love, often it is pity, or again creativity. It might also be anger or reverence or awe or a hunger to put things right – a hunger for justice; or many other things. It may be something that leads directly to action, but it may also be something that prompts contemplation; or other responses again. Since epiphanies are what I call a focal-case category, not all of the conditions listed above have to be fulfilled by all instances of epiphanies. In order to allow the reader to get a better grip on which range of phenomena may count as an epiphany, I examine in some detail several examples from literature, in particular from works by Murdoch, Hopkins, Wordsworth, C.S. Lewis, and by James Joyce. (shrink)
Metaethics tends to take for granted a bare Democritean world of atoms and the void, and then worry about how the human world that we all know can possibly be related to it or justified in its terms. I draw on Wittgenstein to show how completely upside-down this picture is, and make some moves towards turning it the right way up again. There may be a use for something like the bare-Democritean model in some of the sciences, but the picture (...) has no standing as the basic objective truth about the world; if anything has that standing, it is ordinary life. I conclude with some thoughts about how the notion of bare, “thin” perception of non-evaluative reality feeds a number of philosophical pathologies, such as behaviourism, and show how a “thicker”, more value-laden, understanding of our perceptions of the world can be therapeutic against them. (shrink)
What form, or forms, might ethical knowledge take? In particular, can ethical knowledge take the form either of moral theory, or of moral intuition? If it can, should it? A team of experts explore these central questions for ethics, and present a diverse range of perspectives on the discussion.
Maybe we should think of it like this: trans women/men are to women/men as adoptive parents are to parents. There are disanalogies of course, and the morality of adoption is a large issue in itself which I can't do full justice to here. Still, the analogies are, I think, important and instructive.
I talk about the relation between the direct encounters with values that I take to be a key part of ordinary moral phenomenology, and the well-worn topic of demandingness. I suggest that an ethical philosophy based on (inter alia) such encounters sheds interesting light on some familiar problems.
As its Latin title says, this article inquires whether there is a single correct list of the moral virtues. Virtue ethics tells us to “act in accordance with the virtues” but can often be accused, for example in Aristotle's Ethics, of helping itself without argument to an account of what the virtues are. This paper is, stylistically, an affectionate tribute to the Angelic Doctor, and it works with a correspondingly Thomistic background and approach. It argues for the view that there (...) is at least one correct list of the virtues, and that we can itemise at least seven items in the list, namely, the four cardinal and the three theological virtues. (shrink)
I begin with a summary statement of what I call “the Manifesto”, which is a succinct expression of an entire, and extremely influential, ideology of philosophical ethics: the one that I call “systematic moral theory”, and have been writing against for a decade now. My paper is about why Iris Murdoch rejects the Manifesto; and why anyone should. Murdoch quotes with approval Paul Valéry’s “A difficulty is a light; an insuperable difficulty is a sun.” It sounds paradoxical to suggest that (...) philosophy is about confronting impossible questions; the whole point of the Manifesto is to resolve questions, not leave them hanging. But I show how in a number of ways it is right to think of ethics as concerned with questions that can’t be made to go away. Ethical philosophy is much more difficult than the Manifesto’s get-it-over-with conception of the subject makes it out to be. But also, much more interesting. (shrink)
Explorations about and around the ethics of virtue dominated philosophical thinking in the ancient world, and recent moral philosophy has seen a massive revival of interest in virtue ethics as a rival to Kantian and utilitarian approaches. To help users make sense of the gargantuan--and, often, dauntingly complex--body of literature on the subject, this new four-volume collection is the latest addition to Routledge's acclaimed Critical Concepts in Philosophy series. The editor has carefully assembled classic contributions, as well as more recent (...) work, to create a one-stop 'mini library' of the best and most influential scholarship. While Volume I focuses on the Greek and Roman founding fathers, it also brings together key works that examine the roots of virtue ethics in Christian, Asian, and other traditions. Volume II is organized around 'Religious Virtue Ethics', especially in the last sixty years or so, and Volume III brings together 'Modern Virtue Ethics'. The final volume in the collection assembles major works on topics such as the beginning and end of life; the environment; animal rights; business ethics; sports ethics; the virtues and the economy; the virtues and political life; studies of particular virtues; and debates about whether particular traits are indeed virtues. With a comprehensive index and a useful synoptic introduction newly written by the editor, Virtue Ethicswill be welcomed as an indispensable resource for both reference and research. in the last sixty years or so, and Volume III brings together 'Modern Virtue Ethics'. The final volume in the collection assembles major works on topics such as the beginning and end of life; the environment; animal rights; business ethics; sports ethics; the virtues and the economy; the virtues and political life; studies of particular virtues; and debates about whether particular traits are indeed virtues. With a comprehensive index and a useful synoptic introduction newly written by the editor, Virtue Ethicswill be welcomed as an indispensable resource for both reference and research. (shrink)
Bernard Williams' Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy is widely regarded as one of the most important works of moral philosophy in the last fifty years. In this outstanding collection of new essays, fourteen internationally-recognised philosophers examine the enduring contribution that Williams's book continues to make to ethics. Required.
There have only been three articles in mainstream philosophy journals going back at least to the 1970s on generosity. This paper hopes to draw attention to this neglected virtue. By building on what work has already been done, and trying to advance that discussion along several different dimensions, it hopes that others will take a closer look at this important and surprisingly complex virtue. More specifically, it formulates three important necessary conditions for what is involved in possessing the virtue of (...) generosity, and considers other contenders as well. The necessary conditions have to do with whether what is given must be of value to the giver, whether the giver's primary motivation has to be altruistic, and whether the act of giving has to be supererogatory. (shrink)