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Affiliated with Lebanon Valley College of Pennsylvania

Volume 13 SPRING/SUMMER 2006
Numbers 1/2


Ethics, Morality, and Philosophy

About the Contributors


Moral Explanation
David Boersema
Department of Philosophy
Pacific University
Forest Grove, OR 97116 (USA)

Narrative, Relativism, and Realism, in Ethics
John Mizzoni, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Division of Arts and Sciences
Neumann College
Aston, PA 19014 (USA)

Philosophy’s Living-Pedagogy
Dr. Yoram Lubling

Philosophy Department
Elon University
Elon, NC 27244 (USA)

Truth: A Modern and Postmodern View
James P. Danaher, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy
Head, Department of Philosophy Nyack College
Nyack, NY 10960 (USA)

Mill and Freud: The Role of Reason and Pleasure in Society
Katherine A. Johnson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Philosophy
Hanover College
Hanover, IN 47250 (USA)

The New Empirical Metaethics
William A. Rottschaefer
Department of Philosophy
Lewis and Clark College
Portland, OR 97219 (USA)



Bruce Fleming, Science and the Self:  The Scale of Knowledge
Pedro Blas Gonzalez

Pedro Blas Gonzalez, Human Existence as Radical Reality:  Ortega y Gassett’s Philosophy of Subjectivity
Julio Varela

A. Cleveland Harrison, Unsung Valor:  A GI’s Story of World War II
Robert S. Frey

Mary E.  Hess, Engaging Technology in Theological Education:  All That We Can’t Leave Behind
David W. Gill

Gerald Holton, Victory & Vexation in Science:  Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, and Others
Raphael Sassower

David Albert Jones, The Soul of the Embryo
Art Spring and Rosamond Kilmer Spring

Karen L. King, What Is Gnosticism?
Julio Varela

Rebecca J. Lester, Jesus in Our Wombs:  Embodying Modernity in a Mexican Convent
Angus Crane

Stephen Mulhall, Philosophical Myths of the Fall
Sonja Tanner

Peter Hanns Reill, Vitalizing Nature in the Enlightenment
Ellen J. Jenkins

Rosemary Radford Ruether, Goddesses and the Feminine Divine:  A Western Religious History
Sonja Tanner

John J. Shea, Finding God Again:  Spirituality for Adults
Deborah Savage

Scott Soames, Reference and Description:  The Case Against Two-Dimensionalism
David Boersema

Harvey Whitehouse and Robert N. McCauley, eds., Mind and Religion:  Psychological and Cognitive Foundations of Religiosity
Pedro Blas Gonzalez


Max Cacopardo, director.  Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir
Noëlle Vahanian

Lutz Hachmeister and Michael Kloft.  The Goebbels Experiment
Dovilé Budryté

Pirjo Honkasalo, director.  The 3 Rooms of Melancholia
Ellen J. Jenkins

Petr Lom, director.  Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan
Ellen J. Jenkins

Franz Reichle, director.  Monte Grande:  What is Life? 
Oz Lorentzen

Catherine Scott, director.  Pat Fiske, producer.  Ray Moynihan, co-writer.  Selling Sickness
Richard Isaacman


Abstracts of Current Issue

Moral Explanation
David Boersema

The structural similarities between scientific explanation and moral justification are explored. Both, it is claimed, are answers to Why-Questions; in the case of explanation, “Why did X happen?” and in the case of justification, “Why do X?” After surveying various models of explanation in an attempt to shed light on their structure, it is argued that both explanation and justification relate—and must relate—the phenomenon at issue to background theory, relevant particular facts, and given goals.



Narrative, Relativism, and Realism, in Ethics               
John Mizzoni

Narrative is a potent antidote for our tendency to reduce other people to bloodless abstractions and statistics.  Virtue theorists in ethics have been particularly persuasive in pointing out the connections between narrative and ethics.  Narrative accounts in ethics have the concrete experiential basis that virtue ethicists have been seeking to integrate back into ethical discussions.  Some virtue theorists further maintain that those character traits a particular society chooses to regard as virtues and those character traits it chooses to regard as vices are culturally and ethically relative.

It is true that when we immerse ourselves in the narratives of others with the intent to genuinely appreciate how others experience and understand their lives we may begin to get a sense that the values and standards we take as important in our personal lives are merely relative.  A reader who is consistently exposed to a diversity of narratives may come to believe in relativism. 

But I argue that although virtue ethics—with its connection to concrete narrative accounts—is compatible with both cultural and ethical relativism, when people read the undercurrent of relativism as a vindication of ethical relativism then I believe they are being too hasty with their conclusion.  This is because virtue ethics—with its connection to concrete narrative accounts—is also compatible with ethical realism:  the view that there are permanent, universal, objective values and standards. The forcefulness and persuasiveness of narrative accounts should not make us feel compelled to either endorse ethical relativism or give up ethical realism.



Philosophy’s Living-Pedagogy           
Yoram Lubling
The following discussion addresses the fundamental problem of traditional education in general and philosophical pedagogy in particular.  The central problem of traditional education, I argue, is that it follows a set of false assumptions about the structure of the world and the nature of the person.  Following Plato’s division of existence into the realms of the physical and the mental, Western education identified learning mainly with the former realm, i.e., theory.  However, after 2,500 years of Platonic education of the mind, the nature of the individual’s relationships with others and with the environment, failed to be transformed.  Contrary to Aristotle’s claim that what makes humans unique is their ability to “act in accordance with reason,” we discovered that reason is shaped by our prior emotional life, as Freud argued.  After 2,500 years of logical and ethical teachings and 2,000 years of religious love, the children of the 20th century were still burning human bodies in the middle of Europe and enslaving their brothers and sisters around the globe.

This paper argues that traditional education failed to acknowledge the relational, contextual, and living aspects of learning, and by so doing turned learning into a formal and detached possession of information and not into existential moments of understanding.  “Wisdom is in the muscles,” observed Emerson, and only learning that also involves the dimension of actual living can lead to a transformation of the whole person.  I offer the classical American tradition in philosophy as a corrective to the formalistic and dualistic nature of tradition pedagogy.  With their unique brand of naturalism, the classical American tradition succeeded in redefining the nature of our metaphysical assumptions, the nature and the process of learning, and ultimately the nature of personhood.  Finally, I provide a case-study in which the wisdom of philosophy is taught in a more participatory and engaged manner, consistent with the ideas of the American philosopher of education, John Dewey.  I call this approach to learning, Living-Pedagogy



Truth:  A Modern and Postmodern View
James P. Danaher

The idea of truth has been an essential element of the Christian tradition.  Our idea of truth, however, has changed significantly over time.  This paper considers some of those changes.  In particular it argues that the Augustinian, medieval view and the postmodern view are very similar.  Equally, when we consider the modern, Enlightenment view of truth, we find it is not only incompatible with both the Augustinian and postmodern views, but it is also equally at odds with what is at the core of the Christian tradition.



Mill and Freud:  The Role of Reason and Pleasure in Society
Katherine A. Johnson
Mill and Freud had almost identical starting points in their texts Utilitarianism and Civilization and Its Discontents, but reached diametrically opposed conclusions about the role society plays in our efforts to achieve happiness.  They both begin with the assertion that people act to experience pleasure and to avoid pain, but Mill goes on to say that a well-structured society can help us achieve these ends, while Freud says that society will necessarily limit our experiences of pleasure.  They reached such different conclusions because of the very different roles each of them assigned to reason.  Mill believed it could and should guide our lives, while Freud thought instincts always direct our lives and reason will only ever be in its pay.



The New Empirical Metaethics               
William A. Rottschaefer

Metaethics, the part of ethics that concerns itself with the subject matter and methodology of ethics, has taken a scientific turn.  I review four recent books that illustrate this turn and show why it marks an advance over its linguistic analytic and a priori predecessors.


The cover design for the SPRING/SUMMER 2006 issue of BRIDGES was created by Mr. Ty Bachus.


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