The Retrieval of Ethics
Talbot Brewer presents an invigorating new approach to ethical theory, in the context of human selfhood and agency. The first main theme of the book is that contemporary ethical theorists have focused too narrowly on actions and the discrete episodes of deliberation through which we choose them, and that the subject matter of the field looks quite different if one looks instead at unfolding activities and the continuous forms of evaluative awareness that carry them forward and that constitute an essential element of those activities. The second is that ethical reflection is itself a centrally important life activity, and that philosophical ethics is an extension of this practical activity rather than a merely theoretical reflection upon it. Brewer's approach is founded on a far-reaching reconsideration of the notions of the nature and sources of human agency, and particularly of the way in which practical thinking gives shape to activities, relationships and lives. He contests the usual understanding of the relationship between philosophical psychology and ethics. The Retrieval of Ethics shows the need for a new contemplative vision of the point or value of human action — without which we will remain unable to make optimal sense of our efforts to unify our lives around a tenable conception of how best to live them, or of the yearnings that draw us to our ideals and to each other.
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action admiration affairs affirm agent another’s appearances appreciation apprehension Aristotelian Aristotle Aristotle’s attainment attitude bring buck-passing Cambridge capacity chapter character friendship circumstances claim coherent conception of desire constitutive contemporary count deepen deliberation deliberative dialectical activities direction of fit dualism engage epistemic virtues eudaimonia eunoia evaluative concepts evaluative outlook fact friends genuine grasp hence human ideal impersonal insight instance intellectual virtues intentions intimate intrinsic value intrinsically valuable activities intuition involve justificatory Kantian kind lives merely natural properties Nicomachean Ethics non-cognitivism non-cognitivist normative notion object one’s oneself other’s Oxford University Press person philosophical picture Plato plausible possible practical reason practical thinking practical thought problem proper propositional propositional attitudes propositional knowledge propositionalism propositionalist pursuit question rationalizing explanation regarded Scanlon seems sense sensory pleasures simply sort suppose take pleasure telos theoretical reflection things true beliefs understanding virtue epistemology virtue ethics virtuous vivid wholly