A philosopher proposes a blend of compassion, non-duplicity, and clarity about the use of language
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"Garner is one of the first philosophers since Nietzsche to take seriously the idea that 'morality' might be nothing more than a sham.... In his hands, 'amoralism' turns out to be more appealing and humane than many thinkers' versions of 'morality'!"
"Morality and religion have failed because they are based on duplicity and fantasy. We need something new...." With this startling statement, Richard Garner begins to define a system of behavior that will nurture our capabilities for love and language, for creation and cooperation.
The satisfying personal and social strategy for living Garner proposes is "informed, compassionate amoralism." To do without morality, he argues, is to reject the idea that there are intrinsic values, objective duties, and natural rights. Leaving illusions behind us and learning to listen to others and to ourselves may be what we need to lead us out of the darkness.
Garner builds his case on a survey of moral definitions and arguments from ancient Greece forward. Beyond Morality revisits the tenets of Christianity and Eastern religious, providing readers with a meaningful overview of the history of moral thought.
Quotations illuminate and illustrate the text, adding to the value of Beyond Morality as a textbook for ethics courses.
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"This work is a tremendous achievement. The author's erudition is overwhelming, yet it is expressed without overwhelming the reader. He goes easily from modern to ancient thought. Some of the most difficult areas of thought are explored with such clarity that readers unfamiliar with them can grasp them readily. One of the chief virtues of this highly informative book is that it sets the problems of ethics in the context of wider areas of through and brings them down to earth. Garner's main thesis, referred to as amoralism, is extremely important, not only to philosophy, but to all popular thinking about ethics, both theoretical and applied. He has done a magnificent job defending this important theme. This is a landmark work."
Richard Taylor, Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, University of Rochester
Read a review from Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Volume 57.3 (September 1997), written by David B. Wong (pdf).
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1. Moral Arguments and Morality
Conversations and Conventions
The Burden of Proof
Moral, Amoral, and Immoral
2. Doubts about Morality
The Function-of-Language Argument
3. Morality and Its Denial
A Literary Example and a Warning
Moralism versus Amoralism
What Is the Difference between Moralism and Amoralism?
4. History, Hallucinations, and Human Nature
Agriculture, Cities, and the Goddess
Murder in Mesopotamia
Law: Marduk and Hammurabi
Explaining the Messages
5. Moralism and Amoralism in India
Karma and Reincarnation
Moralism and Indian Thought
6. Moralism and Amoralism in China
The School of Names
The Yin-Yang School
Buddhism in China
Moralism and Chinese Thought
7. Moralism and Amoralism in Greece
Minoans and Mycenaeans
The Aryan Harvest
‘Agathos’ and Its Persuasive Definition
Government and War
Socrates and Plato
Justice and the Republic
The Theory of Forms
Moralism and Greek Thought
8. Gods and Religious Morality
Some Unfamiliar Deities
Revelation and Divination
What to Believe?
The Genetic Fallacy Fallacy
9. Experience and Reason: Secular Morality
Rationalist Attempts to Make a Secular Morality
Empiricist Attempts to Make a Secular Morality
Richard Price and Thomas Reid
Making Moralism True by Definition
10. A Survey of Moral Theories
11. Amoralists, Critics, Pseudo-Amoralists, and Backsliders
The Amoralist Need Not Be an Immoral, Heartless, Selfish Jerk Who Denies the Obvious
Some Responses to the Amoralist
Pseudo-Amoralists and Backsliders
What Is Wrong with Morality?
12. Desires and Emotions
What to Do about Desires and Emotions
One Extreme: Eliminate Desires and Emotions
The Other Extreme: Indulge Desires and Emotions
A Middle Way
Another Middle Way
13. Decisions, Control, and Harmony
The Bicameral Brain Again
Force and Control
The Way of Harmony
14. Language, Truth, and Non-Duplicity
15. Applied Amoralism
The AlternativeApplied Amoralism
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About the Author(s)
Richard Garner is Professor of Philosophy at The Ohio State University.
Philosophy and Ethics
In the series
Ethics and Action, edited by Tom Regan.
No longer active.
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