How to Defend Humane Ideals: Substitutes for Objectivity

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James Robert Flynn
U of Nebraska Press, 2000 - Philosophy - 212 pages
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One of the principal moral and psychological problems of our time is whether humane ideals can be defended. Loss of faith in the objectivity of ethics has encouraged a sense of hopelessness. The notion that no ideal is better than any other, that a humane commitment has no rational advantage over Nietzsche's contempt for ordinary people, has been accused of leaving our civilization without self-confidence or a purpose.

James R. Flynn rejects attempts to salvage ethical objectivity as futile and counterproductive. Instead, he uses philosophical analysis to demonstrate the relevance of logic and evidence to moral debate. He then uses modern social science to refute racists, Social Darwinists, Nietzsche, and the meritocracy thesis of The Bell Curve. Flynn concludes that the great post-Enlightenment project?justice for all races and classes, the reduction of inequality, and the abolition of privilege?retains its moral dignity and relevance.

  

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Contents

TruthTests and What We Have Lost
3
Plato and Thrasymachus
23
TruthTests and Proofs
47
Kant and Sister Simplice
68
Morality and Moral Debate
91
Race and Class
103
Superpeople and Supermen
120
Justice and Meritocracy
142
Humanism and Postmodernism
163
The Personal and the Conventional
185
References
195
Subject Index
205
Author Index
211
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

A professor emeritus at the University of Otago, New Zealand, James R. Flynn is the author of "Asian Americans: Achievement beyond IQ" and "Race, IQ, and Jensen." He has been profiled in "Scientific American," and his research has been reviewed in "Nature and Newsweek."

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