“Against the current wave of moral scepticism, Daniel Vokey deftly mediates between the imperative for objective moral knowledge and competing ethical positions in our diverse culture. Boldly original in its critique of contemporary ethical theories, Moral Discourse in a Pluralistic World dissolves the rationalism-relativism problem by grounding affectivity as the core of intrinsic moral value through the integration of western nonfoundationalism and Buddhist thought. Shedding new light on such important issues as embodied subjectivity, the relationship of the emotions to the moral domain, and the ethico-epistemological possibilities of narrative, Vokey’s meticulously crafted study offers clarity and hope. A breakthrough achievement!”—Deanne Bogdan, Professor, Graduate Program in Philosophy of Education, Department of Theory and Policy Studies in Education, OISE/University of Toronto
“ Moral Discourse in a Pluralistic World adopts perspectives from the compassionate wisdom of Mahayana Buddhism to render a creative interpretation of intrinsic moral goodness. Its characterization of our prediscursive “reasons of the heart” is the keystone for a sympathetic critique and reconstruction of Alasdair MacIntyre’s account of the rationality of moral traditions. The result is a significant contribution to frameworks for a refutation of moral scepticism, a politics of reconciliation, and a restoration of Aristotelian moral education.” —Ian McPherson, Northern College, Dundee
In this thought-provoking book, Daniel Vokey argues that agreement on core fundamental moral values is necessary for justice and democracy to flourish. Addressing the political, social, and environmental problems that result from unresolved moral conflict, Vokey clarifies ways in which genuine agreement on moral issues can be pursued through moral discourse.
Moral Discourse in a Pluralistic World charts the epistemological middle ground between objectivism and relativism, analyzes and reconstructs Alasdair MacIntyre’s account of the rationality of traditions, outlines a coherent conceptual framework for moral intuitionism, and restores the association between the beautiful and the good. Vokey’s study also distinguishes itself by drawing heavily on the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism to justify characterizations of intrinsic moral goodness.
How shall we collectively confront the global problems we face? In Moral Discourse in a Pluralistic World, Daniel Vokey argues that it is possible for people from very different religious, political, philosophical, and cultural traditions to talk productively about the issues that divide them.
Vokey refutes moral scepticism—the pervasive belief that conflict is impossible to resolve in a rational way—by confronting two kinds of relativist arguments: that we cannot understand the positions of people whose perspectives are incommensurable with our own and that moral values are matters, not of truth, but of opinion, preference, and custom. Vokey challenges the first by reconstructing and extending Alasdair MacIntyre’s account of the rationality of traditions of inquiry. Using the term moral discourse to refer to the processes involved in assessing moral points of view, Vokey shows how evaluating the relative merits of rival paradigms is a crucial step in the search for consensus.
Vokey confronts the second kind of relativist argument by drawing from the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism. He uses Buddhist teachings to locate moral truth in our reasons of the heart, our prediscursive understanding of what is genuinely worth caring about most deeply, while also restoring the link within Aristotelian ethics between the good and the beautiful.
By clarifying the ways in which genuine agreement on moral issues can be pursued through moral discourse, Vokey provides a coherent conceptual framework for addressing the political, social, and environmental problems arising from unresolved moral conflict.
“_Moral Discourse in a Pluralistic World_ is not only an eloquent philosophical work, but also very relevant for moral practice. It is a book to be studied and taken to heart.” — Journal of Moral Education
“The book is a helpful contribution to ongoing conversations about whether and how persons from very different moral traditions may argue productively about moral issues across cultural and religious gulfs.” — Theological Studies