Thursday, September 18, 2008

Moral Craft and Moral Criticism

For Aristotle (as for Plato) the aesthetic analogy which illuminates the problem of moral philosophy is the analogy between the artist or craftsman's characteristic procedures in designing and executing his work and the similar, but also different procedures which we all use in designing and executing practical policies in ordinary life. For contemporary moral philosophers, largely preoccupied with elucidating sentences which express moral praise or blame (moral "judgments" in the sense in which a judge gives judgments), the relevant analogy is between sentences expressing moral praise or condemnation and sentences expressing aesthetic praise or condemnation. As aesthetics has become the study of the logic and language of aesthetic criticism, so moral philosophy has become largely the study of the logic and language of moral criticism.


Stuart Hampshire, "Fallacies in Moral Philosophy" (1949), in Hauerwas & MacIntyre, eds., Revisions: Changing Perspectives in Moral Philosophy, U of Notre Dame P (Notre Dame: 1983), p. 52.

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