Moral Failure: On the Impossible Demands of Morality (Hardback)
  • Moral Failure: On the Impossible Demands of Morality (Hardback)
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Moral Failure: On the Impossible Demands of Morality (Hardback)

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£58.00
Hardback 296 Pages / Published: 15/01/2015
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Moral Failure: On the Impossible Demands of Morality asks what happens when the sense that "I must" collides with the realization that "I can't." Bringing together philosophical and empirical work in moral psychology, Lisa Tessman here examines moral requirements that are non-negotiable and that contravene the principle that "ought implies can." In some cases, it is because two non-negotiable requirements conflict that one of them becomes impossible to satisfy, and yet remains binding. In other cases, performing a particular action may be non-negotiably required - even if it is impossible - because not performing the action is unthinkable. After offering both conceptual and empirical explanations of the experience of impossible moral requirements and the ensuing failures to fulfill them, Tessman considers what to make of such experience, and in particular, what role such experience has in the construction of value and of moral authority. According to the constructivist account that the book proposes, some moral requirements can be authoritative even when they are impossible to fulfill. Tessman points out a tendency to not acknowledge the difficulties that impossible moral requirements and unavoidable moral failures create in moral life, and traces this tendency through several different literatures, from scholarship on Holocaust testimony to discussions of ideal and nonideal theory, from theories of supererogation to debates about moral demandingness and to feminist care ethics.

Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
ISBN: 9780199396146
Number of pages: 296
Weight: 520 g
Dimensions: 243 x 162 x 25 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
This book is extremely rich ... This is a provocative, original book, one that ought to be read by anyone interested in the question of what moral theory is and what it could be. * Regina Rini, Mind *
... engaging and thought-provoking volume, Tessman has made an important and stimulating contribution to the debate about moral dilemmas that anyone concerned with moral philosophy should read. * Christopher W. Gowans, Ethics *
Moral Failure is an intricate book that makes use of many more complicated and interconnected arguments than can be covered in much detail here, but Tessman expertly navigates the relevant prominent debates and carefully assembles the component pieces of her overall argument by drawing upon a wide range of philosophical and empirical resources. * Brandon D. C. Fenton, Metapsychology *
It is remarkably original, a highly engaging read, which achieves what the best philosophy books do: Tessman breaks open sets of questions that reinvigorate old debates and place new ones on the table ... it is a potentially, and hopefully, discipline-changing book for those working in normative moral philosophy. * Theresa Tobin, Hypatia Reviews *
Insightful, illuminating book that provides a fine example of the benefits of engaging in moral theory in a way that pays attention to moral experience. This book is essential reading for anyone working on the issue of moral dilemmas and is recommended to anyone interested in moral philosophy. * Philosophical Quarterly *
Recommended. * Choice *
Tessman's book is outstanding in its originality, controlled and precise in its continuous argumentation, and extraordinarily provocative in its main thesis. The book is an unsettling, even startling, view of the moral situation of human beings as inevitably tragic. ...At many points I found it revelatory and refreshing, breaking crusts of orthodoxy with unexpected insights. At some points I found it stunning; I struggled with the implications of these carefully wrought arguments because of the disturbing vision they support. This book has the potential to open up, and seems to aim principally at opening up, a new set of discussions within metaethics about the nature and limits of moral theorizing. It also bears on normative theory about the nature of our values, our self-understanding and burdens as responsible agents, and how we should address significant injustice or evil in the world. * Margaret Urban Walker, Marquette University *
In this remarkably original book, metaethics, empirical moral psychology, political philosophy, and feminist theory fall into place like puzzle pieces, revealing a neglected and profound problem for moral agency: the inevitability of our own moral failure. The message is sobering, but never despairing, and it serves as a welcome corrective to theories of moral deliberation that are overly idealistic or simplistic. Tessman sets an exemplary standard by forging a theory that is attentively and insightfully grounded in actual evaluative practices. * Jesse Prinz, The Graduate Center, City University of New York *
thoroughly important and thought-provoking text * Paul Butterfield, Dialectica *

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