The Moral Nexus

Princeton University Press
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The Moral Nexus develops and defends a new interpretation of morality—namely, as a set of requirements that connect agents normatively to other persons in a nexus of moral relations. According to this relational interpretation, moral demands are directed to other individuals, who have claims that the agent comply with these demands. Interpersonal morality, so conceived, is the domain of what we owe to each other, insofar as we are each persons with equal moral standing.

The book offers an interpretative argument for the relational approach. Specifically, it highlights neglected advantages of this way of understanding the moral domain; explores important theoretical and practical presuppositions of relational moral duties; and considers the normative implications of understanding morality in relational terms.

The book features a novel defense of the relational approach to morality, which emphasizes the special significance that moral requirements have, both for agents who are deliberating about what to do and for those who stand to be affected by their actions. The book argues that relational moral requirements can be understood to link us to all individuals whose interests render them vulnerable to our agency, regardless of whether they stand in any prior relationship to us. It also offers fresh accounts of some of the moral phenomena that have seemed to resist treatment in relational terms, showing that the relational interpretation is a viable framework for understanding our specific moral obligations to other people.

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About the author

R. Jay Wallace is the Judy Chandler Webb Distinguished Chair in the Department of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments, Normativity and the Will, and The View from Here: On Affirmation, Attachment, and the Limits of Regret.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Feb 26, 2019
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Pages
328
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ISBN
9780691183923
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Philosophy / Metaphysics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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To what extent are we responsible for our actions? Philosophical theorizing about this question has recently taken a social turn, marking a shift in focus from traditional metaphysical concerns about free will and determinism. Recent theories have attended to the interpersonal dynamics at the heart of moral responsibility practices and the role of the moral environment in scaffolding agency. Yet, the implications of social inequality and the role of social power for our moral responsibility practices remains a surprisingly neglected topic. The conception of agency involved in current approaches to moral responsibility is overly idealized, assuming that our practices involve interactions between equally empowered and situated agents. In twelve new essays and a substantial introduction, this volume systematically challenges this assumption, exploring the impact of social factors such as power relationships and hierarchies, paternalism, socially constructed identities, race, gender and class on moral responsibility. Social factors have bearing on the circumstances in which agents act as well as on the person or people in the position to hold that agent accountable for his or her action. Additionally, social factors bear on the parties who pass judgment on the agent. Leading theorists of moral responsibility, including Michael McKenna, Marina Oshana, and Manuel Vargas, consider the implications of oppression and structural inequality for their respective theories. Neil Levy urges the need to refocus our analyses of the epistemic and control conditions for moral responsibility from individual to socially extended agents. Leading theorists of relational autonomy, including Catriona Mackenzie, Natalie Stoljar and Andrea Westlund develop new insights into the topic of moral responsibility. Other contributors bring debates about moral responsibility into dialogue with recent work in feminist philosophy, social epistemology and social psychology on topics such as epistemic injustice and implicit bias. Collectively, the essays in this volume reorient philosophical debates about moral responsibility in important new directions.
Normativity and the Will collects fourteen important _ papers on moral psychology and practical reason by R. Jay _ Wallace, one of the leading philosophers currently working_ in these areas. The papers explore the interpenetration of normative and _ psychological issues in a series of debates that lie at the heart of moral philosophy. Part I, Reason, Desire, and the_ Will, discusses the nexus linking normativity to motivation, including the relations between desire and reasons, the role of normative considerations in explanations of action, and_ the normative commitments involved in willing an end (such_ as the requirement to adopt the necessary means). Part II,_ Responsibility, Identification, and Emotion, looks at _ questions about the rational capacities presupposed by _ accountable agency and the psychic factors that both inhibit and enable identification with what we do. It includes an interpretation of the Nietzschean claim that ressentiment is among the sources of modern moral consciousness. Part III,_ Morality and Other Normative Domains, addresses the _ structure of moral reasons and moral motivation, and the _ relations between moral demands and other normative domains (including especially the requirements of living a _ meaningful human life). _ _ Wallace's treatments of these topics are at once _ sophisticated and engaging. Taken together, they constitute an advertisement for a distinctive way of pursuing issues in moral psychology and the theory of practical reason. The _ book articulates and defends a unified framework for _ thinking about those issues, while offering sustained _ critical discussions of other influential approaches (by _ philosophers such as Korsgaard, McDowell, Nietzsche, Raz, Scanlon, and Williams). It should be of interest to every _ serious student of moral philosophy. _
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