Ethics after Babel: The Languages of Morals and Their Discontents

Ethics after Babel: The Languages of Morals and Their Discontents

by Jeffrey Stout
     
 

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A fascinating study of moral languages and their discontents, Ethics after Babel explains the links that connect contemporary moral philosophy, religious ethics, and political thought in clear, cogent, even conversational prose. Princeton's paperback edition of this award-winning book includes a new postscript by the author that responds to the book's noted…  See more details below

Overview

A fascinating study of moral languages and their discontents, Ethics after Babel explains the links that connect contemporary moral philosophy, religious ethics, and political thought in clear, cogent, even conversational prose. Princeton's paperback edition of this award-winning book includes a new postscript by the author that responds to the book's noted critics, Stanley Hauerwas and the late Alan Donagan. In answering his critics, Jeffrey Stout clarifies the book's arguments and offers fresh reasons for resisting despair over the prospects of democratic discourse.

Author Biography: Jeffrey Stout is Professor of Religion at Princeton University.

Editorial Reviews

Cornel West
Jeffrey Stout is one of the most penetrating and provocative philosophers on the American scene.
Theology Today
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
To understand the messages of, say, a Jerry Falwell, Elie Wiesel or Mario Cuomo, we first have to understand the moral language in which they frame them asserts this Princeton professor of religion. But Stout (The Flight from Authority) is no moral relativist. His ``modest pragmatism'' throws down a gauntlet to nihilists and skeptics who, in his opinion, are cowed by the sheer diversity of modern society. As he reflects on the role of institutions and beliefs in shoring up the moral framework of our fragile republic, he drives home his central message: religious ethics, far from being something we can ignore, are the litmus test of any secular philosophy. Finding academic theology bankrupt, Stout engages instead in a debate with moral philosophers. His own pragmatism offers scant metaphysical comfort, yet it points the way to a better society. This weighty tome will repay the careful reader. (June)
Library Journal
In the first third of this ambitious book Stout explores theoretical ethics, arguing persuasively against nihilism, skepticism, and relativism. He then sympathetically considers a revised divine command theory that withstands the stock criticisms of nonbelievers. A bonus chapter brilliantly illuminates the basis of common attitudes toward cannibalism and sodomy; Stout argues that a virtue-based ethics can explain them and is best for a society with pluralistic values. His final section elaborates details. Stout's procedure throughout is to critique other philosophers, with whom he presupposes considerable familiarity. For subject collections. Sidney Gendin, Eastern Michigan Univ., Ypsilanti
Canadian Philosophical Reviews
The most thorough and persuasive attempt to date to take account of the multiplicity of moral standpoints in our culture and to argue that it does not threaten coherent moral discourse. An unusually lucid and penetrating book.
— J. B. Schneewind
Theology Today
Jeffrey Stout is one of the most penetrating and provocative philosophers on the American scene.
— Cornel West
Theology Today - Cornel West
Jeffrey Stout is one of the most penetrating and provocative philosophers on the American scene.
Canadian Philosophical Reviews - J.B. Schneewind
The most thorough and persuasive attempt to date to take account of the multiplicity of moral standpoints in our culture and to argue that it does not threaten coherent moral discourse. An unusually lucid and penetrating book.
Canadian Philosophical Reviews - J. B. Schneewind
The most thorough and persuasive attempt to date to take account of the multiplicity of moral standpoints in our culture and to argue that it does not threaten coherent moral discourse. An unusually lucid and penetrating book.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 1989 American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence

"Jeffrey Stout is one of the most penetrating and provocative philosophers on the American scene."—Cornel West, Theology Today

"The most thorough and persuasive attempt to date to take account of the multiplicity of moral standpoints in our culture and to argue that it does not threaten coherent moral discourse. An unusually lucid and penetrating book."—J. B. Schneewind, Canadian Philosophical Reviews

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807014028
Publisher:
Beacon
Publication date:
06/28/1988
Pages:
320

What People are saying about this

Stephen Toulmin
Professor Jeffrey Stout's Ethics after Babel is in effect the next step forward in public argument about moral language and ethical reasoning beyond Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue. . . . The two books together capture the central dialogue about the foundations of ethics at the present time.
Stephen Toulmin, Northwestern University
Richard Rorty
The most imaginative, thorough, and enlightening discussion of moral relativism I have read.
Richard Rorty, "University of Virginia"

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