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The Moral of the Story 7/e is Out! April 15, 2012

Posted by Nina Rosenstand in Education, Ethics, Nina Rosenstand's Posts, Philosophy Profession.
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I’m happy to announce that the seventh edition of my ethics textbook The Moral of the Story is now available:

The cover painting is by Karen Barbour, Bay Area artist, and every edition of the book has had a painting by her on the cover. She has a wonderfully visionary style, and I love being able to maintain the visual consistency in this new edition. This image in particular perfectly illustrates the maze of thoughts we often find ourselves in, in regard to moral issues. (And as with all mazes, there is always a way out, even if it is not within view…)

McGraw-Hill has a website where you can check out the Table of Contents and other features of the new edition. Instructors can request a desk copy. Among the new sections are a thoroughly updated Chapter 1, and sections on Happiness studies, Moral Naturalism, updated research on ethics and neuroscience, ethics and empathy, a new Nietzsche section, an updated Ayn Rand section, and several new movies and novels including Avatar, State of Play, True Grit, The Invention of Lying, and A Thousand Spendid Suns. And  Chapter 10 has a picture of Dwight Furrow! 🙂

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Comments»

1. Dwight Furrow - April 19, 2012

Well I was going to say congratulations until I got to the last sentence! But I guess every author is entitled to one bad decision.So congrats anyway.

2. Paul J. Moloney - April 22, 2012

Congratulations to Nina on the 7th edition! I like to see people in philosophy accomplishing something in philosophy. My doing philosophy depends in part on what others have to offer on the subject. The accomplishment of others brings to mind the topic of envy. It is to my benefit that others write well on philosophy. In a sense I am safeguarded from envy by doing philosophy primarily outside academia. I think envy is more about the status others have in academia more than it does philosophy itself. If I were envious of someone’s academic status, I would have to be envious of everyone who teaches philosophy, and that is too much work for me. Still, I would probably agree with some academic people that others in academia have an undeserved status.

The real status in philosophy comes from doing philosophy well rather than from any academic position. Intelligent people think themselves worthy of status because of their intelligence and because they forsake other honors for philosophy. If there were no status attached to teaching philosophy no one would teach, so a certain amount of status is both good and necessary. If a philosophy teacher had no sense of self-honor I would have to doubt their teaching abilities. Some people, though, have an immoderate desire for status and such people end up competing against each other. The competition for status can end up in some pretty nonsensical writing.

The love of status actually impedes the acquisition of real status, which seems ironic. The status received for having done philosophy well is not worth having done philosophy well. Those who do philosophy well will fall out of love with status if they had any to begin with. People who want to do philosophy well for the sake of status will end up doing philosophy poorly. There was actually a fellow who complained to one of the philosophy magazines published in England that his book did not receive the attention it deserved. Poor fellow must have not known much about philosophy or he would have considered how Hume’s work fell flat on publication but ended up becoming a classic.

Nina’s work corresponds with her knowing how to teach philosophy. Dwight’s book “Against Theory” can be difficult but it is definitely not obscure in itself. One has to have a certain amount of knowledge to understand philosophy, and knowledge can be difficult to acquire, but no one can say that knowledge is obscure. In other words, Dwight’s book is not for the beginner.

I am interested in knowing what Nina’s updated take on Ayn Rand is. My admiration of Ayn Rand is not real based on her philosophy itself, but I think it is well deserved.

3. Nina Rosenstand - April 26, 2012

Thank you both! Dwight, your picture is one of my favorite additions to the new edition!
Paul, we’re grateful you choose to share your philosophical thoughts on this blog. Always an interesting perspective. I had in mind a while back to post something about a debate (which I actually tweeted about) between philosophers whether to scrap the title of “philosopher” for those of us who teach, and restrict it to those who philosophize—as if the two groups can be separated. I may get back to that topic…
My updated take on Ayn Rand? An excerpt from John Galt’s Speech (very hard to obtain permission to use it), and a little debate which I hope comes across as “fair and balanced”… 🙂

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4. Paul J. Moloney - April 29, 2012

Nina, I hope you do get back to the topic on the title ”philosopher”. I am now thinking that teacher and philosopher cannot be separated. I used to think that teaching philosophy and philosophizing were not necessarily the same. I think in that opinion I was influenced by my ego. My ego has a bad influence on my biases. I think being a philosopher is a matter of degree. The philosopher in the purest sense is the lover of wisdom. I have to think that those who appreciate philosophy to some degree are philosophers to the same degree. I think philosophizing is also a matter of degree. I cannot imagine any philosophy teacher not philosophizing to some degree. The subject matter itself necessitates some philosophizing. When it comes to philosophizing, though, I think Nina may have in mind those whose philosophizing results in published works. The philosophizing of most people does not end up so.

I would rather be taught by a good philosophy teacher than by a bad philosopher because good philosophy is based on knowledge, and a good teacher communicates knowledge. Unfortunately, it seems bad philosophers have more status than good philosophy teachers. I do think that philosophy teachers should be considered philosophers, if for no other reason than to counter the status of bad philosophers. Good philosophy teachers are the people who will know if your philosophy is good or bad. There are more good philosophy teachers than there are bad philosophers. It is the good philosophy teachers who know the difference between good and bad philosophers because good philosophy teachers know the subject of philosophy.

Being a philosopher is a matter of the degree of participation in philosophy. Those who love philosophy the most participate the most. When I was seventeen years old I have the idea of becoming philosopher. I never had any intention of becoming a philosopher in name only. I think, then, that the title “philosopher” is the crux of the issue. Some people want to be thought a greater philosopher than they actually are, and these are the pretentious people. In a sense those who formally philosophize are greater philosophers than those who do not because they have a greater participation in philosophy, but everything depends on the quality of the philosophizing. Some who are strictly philosophy teachers are better philosophers because they are too intelligent to publish any bad philosophy.

Also, good philosophy is not offensive, even though some people take offense at good philosophy. In writing philosophy one has to keep their audience in mind, even if they do not write for the sake of an audience. Good philosophy is also very inclusive. It extends to everyone who has an interest in it. It would be insulting to an audience to look down on them for not being philosophers while they are reading your philosophy. As noted in a previous comment, some academics write merely for each other, or rather against each other, in competition for status. They presume their audience is only comprised of those who want more status like they themselves do. The language of such people becomes so exclusive that no one understands it. Anyone, though, in philosophy can be subject to pretentiousness, not just some academic

If one wants to write good philosophy they should keep the most critical people in mind. I do not associate myself with any school of philosophy but I more sympathetic toward the analytical people because they strike me as being the most critical. If your arguments pass through the most intelligent people, you have good arguments.


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