There are many ways of writing about the moral life; Moral Obligations follows the way of what philosophers call ""meta-ethics"": the analysis, not of particular moral problems, but of how the concepts used in formulating and solving them, concepts like ""right"" and ""obligatory,"" have significance and power over us. The meta-ethical part of this book is preceded by a discussion of action, in which Wren lays the foundations for the argument that moral obligation is a part of the formal structure of human agency.
Wren's argument is practical and social-psychological: it is to help all, starting with those who are already committed to some version of the ethic of individual dignity, to promote interagency fellowship and peace as a result of seeing a certain truth, namely, the truth that the urgency of their feelings of moral obligation derives from a unspoken intention to belong to a community of agents.
Moral Obligations begins with the philosophy of action, and then it reviews the historical debate about the nature of obligation and its social context. This is followed by a section about action in general: it establishes the standpoint of the agent and makes an inventory of several species of action. Later chapters summarize the foregoing themes, with emphasis on the unspoken side of intention, and develop them in conjunction with an analysis of the hypothetical imperative. The work closes with a discussion of the dilemma of membership in competing moral communities.
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Table of Contents
AcknowledgmentsIntroduction to the Transaction EditionCHAPTER 1. ACTION1. The Standpoint of the Agent2. The Primacy of Action3. Self and Other4. A Taxonomy of Action5. Transitive, Intransitive, and Static ActionsCHAPTER 2. INTENTION1. The Descriptions of an Action2. Levels of Intention3. The Tacit Side of Intention4. The Vertical, Forward, and Lateral DimensionsCHAPTER 3. VALUATION1. The Greek Debate2. Medieval Conceptions of Value3. The Naturalistic Fallacy4. Prescriptivism5. DescriptivismCHAPTER 4. OBLIGATION1. Three Preparatory Distinctions2. Moral Urgency and Other Oughts3. Why Be Moral?4. The Necessity of InteragencyCHAPTER 5: THE MORAL COMMUNITY1. The Rightness of Rules2. Self-Imposed Heteronomy3. Three Conceptions of HarmonyCHAPTER 6: THE MORAL DOMAIN1. The Model2. Applied Geometry3. Some Ongoing Discussions of Moral AgencyINDEX