Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rethinking Moral Relativism - NYTimes.com

Stanley Fish's "Stone" essay yesterday asked if philosophy matters. Some of us wonder if Fish matters, and why he's been granted such a bully pulpit. The casual bandying of muddy claims (pro and con) about "moral absolutes" is a common undergraduate error, but it usually doesn't enjoy so prominent and prestigious a public forum.

But, I do agree with him that the term "absolute" generally sheds little light.
“[W]hen we are in a muddle about what the answer to a hard moral question is, we are in a muddle about what the absolutely correct answer is.”   [Fish asks:] Why “absolutely”? Isn’t “correct” good enough?
It is. Some philosophers don't get that, and lots of dogmatic non-philosophers don't get it.  But that's no reason to tar "philosophy" per se, regarded as an activity, as an orientation to the world, or even as a profession, with the charge of irrelevance. Nothing could possibly be more relevant to the search for "correct" answers and questions.

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