October 8, 2004
Little Theater, Quad 346, SJU
Charles Wright, Philosophy
Moral Perception and the Structure of Practical Identity
Morality in complex modern societies requires abilities that humans don’t naturally come by. In particular, we have to be able to perceive moral problems that fall outside the boundary of our own inherited way of thinking. These problems arise when the goals, plans or needs of communities with significantly different ideas about what is good or valuable come into conflict. The natural response is for each side to judge that the other is morally wrong, which only reinforces the conflict and threatens to lead to violence. What is needed is for the each side to recognize the integrity of the other’s way of life and to deliberate together to establish rules that both sides can agree to. But before this discussion can even get underway, members of each side must be able to perceive the integrity of the other’s way of life. What makes this possible? Charles Wright will propose an answer in terms of the emotional structure of an individual’s identity – that is, in terms of the way care for, commitment and attachment to values, customs and social institutions form an individual’s sense of who she is.
All are welcome to attend!