Code: DP-6

TOWARD A REALLY PRACTICAL ETHICS

RECONSTRUCTING THE INTRODUCTORY ETHICS COURSE

Pragmatism may be back in style metaphilosophically, but you’d never guess it from the way philosophers teach ethics. For Dewey, of course, ethical thinking can only take place in practice — in intelligent, shared, and imaginative engagement with actual problematic situations, attentive to the details and to the new possibilities they may open up, rather than seeking any kind of final analysis. Almost all "practical" ethics courses today, though, despite their label and no doubt genuine aspiration, head resolutely in the other direction: they take the "applied" path, according to which (to put it slightly polemically) the real philosophical work of ethical thinking takes place in the theoretical and conceptual realm and only then gets "applied", or imposed, on practice. An enormous number of introductory-ethics textbooks are available, for example, but they basically follow just this pattern, with only the tiniest variations adver! ! tised as major selling-points: the usual theories are introduced, their relative strengths and liabilities are examined, and then they are "applied" to a variety of contemporary issues. This model is so familiar and so universal that the very suggestion that there could be a systematic alternative to it may come as a shock.

For some time, though, and partly for this very reason, I have been thinking that it is precisely through the pedagogy of introductory ethics that a Deweyan conception of ethics, and indeed of "practice" itself, might be able to get more of a foothold. Instead of the endless conceptual ground-clearing and critique to which academic pragmatists seem to be relegated today, suppose that Deweyan work in ethics were to center itself around the development of a full-scale, teachable, truly pragmatic rather than merely "applied" approach to introductory ethics — that is, suppose that we were now to dedicate ourselves not so much to the metaphilosophical reconstruction of ethics as to the teaching of ethics itself as the practice of intelligent reconstruction of problematic situations. What then? It would be lovely, of course, to be able to teach could ethics according to our philosophical lights. Equally important, though, other philosophers, not yet p! ! ragmatists, first drawn to a Deweyan approach by its obvious usefulness and eminent appeal in the classroom, might be provoked to rethink their conceptions of ethics itself. There would be metaphilosophical implications after all: for once, at the very least, the profession as a whole would be able to see what another conception of practice looks like, as it were, in practice. It takes some getting used to — a whole set of objections arises almost at once — but at least a pragmatic vision of ethical practice would be concretely realized and before us. The terms of the debate would have to change, and even our teaching might ultimately be the better for it.

I have lately attempted a textbook in this key: A 21st Century Ethical Toolbox (Oxford, 2001). That book, however, does not offer much of a philosophical account of itself. It’s a textbook, after all, and I tried very hard to keep metaphilosophical self-justifications out of it, indeed to write it as if a Deweyan conception of ethics were the most natural thing in the world (and for me it pretty much is) — just as the current textbooks (note) never defend or usually even articulate the most basic conception of ethics that they presuppose. Still, a "toolbox conception of ethics", as it were, needs to be more firmly situated and philosophically defended within philosophy itself as, for better or worse, it stands. That is what I propose to try here — briefly, again practically, and constructively as well.

I

One major reorientation comes right at the beginning. We need to re-envision our students and their situations in line with a Deweyan pedagogy generally. Our students come to introductory ethics already having developed certain kinds of ethical intelligence, a variety of kinds of ethical attentiveness and more or less effective kinds of ethical engagement. In short, they are already ethically skilled and capable in certain ways. And they return to a world in which a person with even a modicum of skill often can make a major constructive difference, in word or deed, in ethically problematic situations — a world in which ethical challenges and opportunities are constant.

The question is how we can offer these students the most help in the short time they will spend with us. From this point of view it is certainly not axiomatic that the best introduction to ethics is an introduction to the discipline or profession of ethics, or to its usual theories and their uses. Let us think of our students not as proto-specialists but more like proto-citizens. The theories and their associated argumentative apparatus can wait for the tiny fraction who will take another course in ethics. I suggest instead that the general introduction, the first course, should offer the kinds of training that would indeed allow a person to make a constructive difference in real problematic ethical situations. The best practical introduction to ethics is a course devoted to improving students’ on-the-ground ethical intelligence.

It may help to recognize that ethics is not unique in this. There are many fields to which the most useful introduction is not a survey or sampling of the mature profession’s distinctive methods and theories, but rather a deliberate intensification or expansion and development of certain native skills with which the field, broadly conceived, is concerned. Music is one such field, surely; and writing, psychological counseling, auto mechanics, dance, indeed teaching itself.

We were told in graduate school that the only or most important kind of "constructive contribution" a philosopher can make is to clarify the general theoretical commitments that underlie (or so it is said) problematic ethical situations. If it were, though, we’d be right back with the orthodox course. I don’t exclude the possibility that such clarification, or something like it, may sometimes be useful (more on this later). But surely, even so, it will be only one contribution among many. Here we need to stay resolutely focused on the whole situation and its needs, and on the whole range of ways in which we engage or can engage it. "Intelligence" is a wide-ranging concept. "Making a constructive difference", broadly viewed, means improving the overall situation in some way; opening up a sense of opportunity, the space for imagination, a greater attentiveness to values and to our fellows and to the larger world; in the end, ! ! perhaps, by arriving at a mutally satisfying way forward, deepening our shared ethical community and its unfolding dialogue and exploration as we do. Crucial then is the range of skills that "making a constructive difference" so conceived requires. I propose five categories of relevant "ethical skills" naturally called upon here.

(1) First are process skills — openmindedness and the ability to carry on an openended dialogue. Though we all say we believe in dialogue, it is striking how poorly we do in actually talking to each other when serious disagreements are involved. The only real models in the culture are talk-show scream-fests and political demonstrations, where the aim is not to work through differences but rather just to exhibit them. Among other things, what is revealed here is a disinterest in ethical engagement as a process. Some issue is at stake, of course, but it is also true that dialogue itself, ongoing and open-ended, has ethical value, and needs skillful tending. This is how we build and rebuild civic relationships and social and political community, as well as our individual relationships and our small-scale communities, in families or with co-workers.

"Settling the question" is only one goal of dialogue, in short, and often not in fact the most important goal. Contrast just this to the usual understanding of the function of dialogue in ethics courses — as a mode of argumentation and persuasion (at best: often in practice it’s just out-shouting the other side), with closure as the main goal, and almost never thematized or examined in its own right — and you begin to see how far we have to go.

(2) Attentiveness to values includes an awareness that any real problematic ethical situation will involve many different values, of many different types, not necessarily at oods with each other but in some kind of tension. It requires some discernment; it may require some sorting of values (and here the consequentialist versus deontological versus virtue-oriented categories of values may be useful — or may not, when the values involved are mostly of one type, or of types not readily fitted into this categorization); it certainly requires some attention not just to difference but also to the ways in which the values involved may be integrated with each other: that is, to their possible synergies, not just their oppositions. We have gotten very good at looking at regions of disagreement, but we are not at all good at looking for common ground, for areas of agreement, even when profound differences exist — as for example, to immediately take a really hard! ! case, in the abortion debate, where no sane participant denies the value of both "life" and "choice", though the different sides may be weigh them differently (and not even that differently, according to some studies).

(3) The other side of attentiveness is responsiveness to values: actually taking them seriously enough to act on them. This is often simply taken for granted in ethics courses, perhaps because the connection is supposed to be obvious, or perhaps because the emotionality which it likely involves disturbs the dispassion so treasured in academia generally. In practice, though, most of us need help in taking this step. Sometimes students need practical help, as in figuring out how to converse respectfully and constructively with others, say other students, across major differences — especially with others who do not share the ideal. Just learning how to keep a dialogue from degenerating into mere debate, again, is a way of putting ethics in practice in our very talking about ethical issues. Sometimes, in addition, students need emotional help, as in dealing with the strong feelings that they often experience when beginning service work, especially with kinds of ! ! people they’ve never encountered before, in homeless shelters for example, or inner-city schools.

"Responsiveness", then, does not simply mean some kind of vague and occasional good-heartedness that can be left undiscussed and unexplored. It calls for settled, wide, and expansive sympathies, carried into action in specific, directed, effective ways; and like any other kind of such action, ethical "response" in this sense needs foresight, guidance, development. That is, it needs to be deliberately taught. It’s a skill after all, and not an easy one either.

(4) It’s surprising how seldom critical thinking skills are taught in practical ethics courses, even when they’re directly relevant. Maybe we’re assuming that our students are getting them elsewhere. But at least drawing the connections would be helpful. I’m sure C. L. Stevenson was wrong to think that all ethical disagreement would disappear if all relevant factual issues were resolved — but surely factual issues are crucial a lot of the time, to a lot of issues. Does the death penalty actually deter? Is global warming actually happening? Do children raised by gay couples grow up sexually confused (any more than the average adolescent)? Do animals suffer pain? Do mothers on welfare have more children than the average American family? All of these questions are primarily factual. That is, actual evidence is available, though its interpretation can be complex and uncertain at times. I think we have a responsibility to introduce students to! ! the skills to find and evaluate that evidence, precisely in an ethical context — you might even say, once again, as a form of ethics itself. Along the way a few other critical thinking skills would help too: like some attention to loaded language (versus careful definition), and also logical consistency, judging like cases alike.

(5) Finally, creative problem-solving skills are crucial in ethics. Here is one area in which powerful problem-solving tools already exist, only in a literature unfamiliar to philosophers. Someone who can think of options everyone else is overlooking, or can creatively transform a problem so that an entirely new range of possible solutions emerges, makes an unparalleled, and rare, kind of constructive contribution, in ethics just as much as in any other practical arena. We have learned to think of moral issues as "dilemmas" — two irreconcilably different values clashing head-on — when often, arguably, there are much more integrative and inclusive ways to approach them instead. Students need the tools to be able to open up some of these alternatives, and even more fundamentally the confidence that they are there to be found.

II

It should be clear that I am not suggesting that we should simply read Dewey in place of or in addition to Mill or Kant or Aristotle. A Deweyan practical ethics class should be designed to maximize the development of the ethical skills outlined above. And above all this requires constant, in-class, dialogue- and issue-oriented practice. For just this reason such a course is eminently teachable — not to mention far more appealing, all the way around, than the usual lecture course. I want to illustrate a few elements of such a course — to carry the points above all the way to their most concrete realization.

Take process skills — dialogue, for example. Students can be given sample "dysfunctional dialogues", at first invented and later from real life (political debates, talk-shows, their own arguments with friends, which you can ask them to write up and bring to class), and asked to analyze and then rewrite them. Fairly simple rules can be offered (and fairly obvious rules, too — the problem is that they’re so seldom followed), such as: Seek common ground; Welcome suggestions and partial solutions (versus looking for the weaknesses and complaining that a proposal isn’t perfect); Avoid the automatic comeback. I usually have students play-read the original and their rewritten versions (usually redone in groups) right in class.

To open the question of "ethics as a learning experience", I suggest stories: ethical paradigms of change rather than of settled positions. One included in my textbook is an interview from Studs Terkel’s American Dreams with a man who evolved from head of the Durham Ku Klux Klan to a labor organizer working side by side with black people. Religion can be approached the same way. Sometimes we read Biblical stories — Islamic, Jewish, and finally Christian — precisely with an appreciation of their ambiguity and depth. First the students are surprised that we do what some call "Bible study" at all; then they’re really surprised when "Bible study" turns out to be so open-ended — and so interesting.

Attentiveness to values can be practiced by reading almost anything with an eye to implicit or explicit values. Start with mission statements of any corporation or institution (your own college or university, for example); then move into newspaper stories; then into fairy tales, plays, etc. Put some premium on finding "more" — that is, don’t stop with the most salient value or values. In any real issue there are many more than just one or two. Already, then, students should find that most such issues don’t come up as "dilemmas" — two values or sets of values diametrically and irreconcilably opposed — but as, well, problematic situations, a range of values in some degree of confusion or tension but not necessarily best understood as two warring camps. A more constructive question is whether there are ways in which many of the values involved might be compatible, might be integrated, might synergize — hence an invitation ! ! to some creative thinking. Even about the various contending arguments we can subtly but profoundly shift the questions we ask. Suppose that instead of trying to figure out which side is right, we ask what each side is right about. Then we may be able to find some common ground, or at least some creative ways to shift the problem toward matters that we can do something about — together.

I do find it useful (eventually — not right away) to introduce three large "families" of values (Goods, Rights, and Virtues), and even, eventually, to introduce the associated styles of ethical theory. But attentiveness should first be practiced in its own right, without pre-established categories. Not all values, for one thing, fit readily into any of these three families (environmental values, for instance), and (I argue) there is no reason to think they should. The theories remain but one rather specialized kind of tool among many.

Responsiveness to values can take many forms. Here is one place in which it is absolutely crucial to look beyond the classroom. Service work is an enormously powerful and transformative experience for many students — and precisely because they go into it with such anxieties and self-consciousness. That is, the resistance is crucial to the learning — precisely not a reason to go lightly here.

My students and I work in the homeless shelters in two nearby cities, Burlington and Greensboro, NC. One student wrote after her first time:

All of my insecurities were running through my head as I approached the door and had to be let in by one of the guests [i.e. people staying in the shelter]. Some people were gathered by the TV and it’s funny to me now, but the first thing I thought was "Hey, I watch that show too!" It’s embarrassing to look back now at how nervous I was because then it hit me that homeless people are just the same as me... Right away I was so glad I had come.

"Just the same as me" — that’s the starting-point. Not that there are no differences, but rather that our differences can be honored on the basis of our underlying commonality, rather than commonality denied on the basis of difference. As the Shelter’s eloquent volunteer statement concludes: "Our guests, in short, are just like us, only they are more poor, under stress, and are forced to make more difficult choices than most of us face." We begin to see, face to face, how true this is.

Guests at the Greensboro Shelter often have only one bag of things to their name. Volunteers have to check their bags when they come in. They are stunned to discover that many bags are filled with books. "The very things students like us take for granted," wrote one of my students, "are the prize possessions of people who have nothing." Many also assume that a well-dressed person in the shelter must be another volunteer — but often enough it turns out that he or she is a guest. "At that moment," wrote one student, "I realized that I too could be here..." It also happens in reverse: "A young black man came in and stood at the counter talking with some of the guests. I felt completely embarrassed after I had asked him his name to check him in and he told me he was not a guest..." He was, in fact, the manager.

You might choose other forms of service. Whatever you do, though, it is crucial to get out of the classroom. In a profoundly classroom-centered system, there is no more powerful symbolic move.

Most of us probably teach critical thinking already. The added element is that it is often especially hard in ethics because students are so committed to ethical points of view that contrary or problematic facts, loaded language, etc. are very difficult to acknowledge. Just for these reasons, of course, critical thinking skills are essential — and teaching them — insisting upon them — gets students engaged in part because they find it so challenging.

Logical consistency, for one, is a familiar topic. Just remember that, as the casuists have argued, generalizing to ethical theories is not the only way in which ethical consistency might work itself out. Appeal to other concrete cases, with a variety of (types of) relevant common factors, is also possible — and also engaging and provocative to students. A class can read Judith Thompson’s abortion analogies this way, for instance. Read bumperstickers (for instance, ask the class: how many people who "Vote Pro-Life" also favor animal rights or nuclear disarmament or even expanded prenatal care for poor pregnant women? Should they?).

Finally, there are a variety of ways to multiply options, from simply asking around, to brainstorming, random association, and a variety of "provocations" like reversals and exaggeration that help us "get out of the box", especially those "boxes" of which we are not yet aware. Just as necessary are ways in which we can shift the problem itself, so that we can prevent it from coming up at all in the future, or at least from coming up so often and in so difficult a form. How about a little "preventive ethics"? (How for example might the so-called "Heinz dilemma" be headed off before it even comes up? National health insurance, anyone? Why are we not encouraging our students to think this way about that all-too-familiar case?) And in what ways might even our seemingly intractable problems themselves be opportunities? (for what?). Thematize and then challenge the assumption that "the" problem as already fram! ! ed for us is somehow a given — for often precisely that assumption is the real problem.

III

All of this is eminently practical, yes, but sooner or later the traditional objectors will return to us, and it is time now to hear them out and respond.

First, naturally, it will be objected that however important these skills may be, they are not the philosopher’s business. Qua philosophers, we are not equipped or trained to teach creativity, sensitivity, openmindedness, and all the rest. Many of these skills in fact carry us far beyond the traditional scope of ethics, or philosophy, or even the academy, reaching into the structure of the self and touching some of our most fundamental ways of going on with each other. Perhaps it is inappropriate (or professionally self-aggrandizing? or just professionally risky?) to make a course mostly out of something so "close" to people, and maybe even someone else’s (therapists’ or counselors’?) subject matter. Besides, it slights our own area of expertise. We should stick to teaching what we were trained to do.

However, if its premise is really true, it is not clear why this objection shouldn’t be answered by saying: so much the worse for us. Students who now come to our ethics courses hoping to improve their practical ethical skills should be encouraged to go somewhere else; and perhaps it is even our obligation to promote the establishment of such practical courses (elsewhere, of course) since right now they are fairly rare.

In fact, however, our stated aspirations for introductory ethics are often close to the goals of the course sketched above. Judging from course descriptions and disciplinary shop talk, many of us do seem to think that we are helping our students lead more ethically intelligent and constructive lives, in the broadest sense. I don’t think this is merely offhand or rhetorical. We want to reconstruct their basic habits in certain ways. I am suggesting that we could do much better at it if we taught a quite different kind of course, but nonetheless, to our credit, that is often our stated goal. And if there is currently some slippage between our hopes for such a course and what we are trained to teach, surely what’s required is some rethinking not of those hopes but of our training. Otherwise (notice) the objection is merely circular: it assumes that our own training in ethics was complete and appropriate, which is just what is in question.

Perhaps most crucially, this objection overlooks and dismisses the philosophical power of methods that may seem at first "merely" practical. In fact they are philosophically powerful, and precisely in the sense that should interest us as philosophers. Dialogue, for example, has striking epistemological depths, unexplored in the tradition but recently much more in view. Service work has an epistemology: it is a profound kind of learning itself, not just an "application". Or again, the problem-solving literature opens right up to the larger questions of creative imagination and social reconstruction so essential to philosophy itself on an older vision. Dewey is sometimes called "the last great public intellectual", but this is not true at all: what is true, tragically, is that he was the last great public philosopher. My very premise in this paper is that a pragmatic rethinking of the pedagogy of ethics ultimately leads to a re-! ! vision of philosophy itself.

A second, related objection to the ethics course sketched here is that it slights the importance of ethical theories, which after all are the prize possession of philosophers. Not enough is said about them (they get only one chapter out of twenty-one in the Toolbox, for example, followed by a chapter mostly about their limits and another about alternative ways to address conflicts between values), and most of the skills offered in the course I have sketched instead either complicate or just avoid the kinds of issues theories are supposed to be good at resolving (or just good at describing?).

The hard-line response, which I would gladly attempt in a longer paper, is that ethical theories are not at all as important or useful as the tradition imagines. This is not an unfamiliar claim: indeed it is widely argued not just by pragmatists but also by feminists, latter-day casuists, and other critics of the orthodoxy. Bernard Williams has argued that there is no reason to think that the "truth about ethics", if there is such a thing at all, is simple in the way that a theory could capture; Richard Zaner has documented the disenchantment with the "applied ethics" model in medical and other settings where at first it seemed to have great appeal; Albert Jonsen and Stephen Toulmin have shown that the history of moral philosophy offers a variety of non-theoretical methods for resolving conflicts, though these have been obscured by the 20th Century’s Sidgwickian preoccupation with ethical theory.

This line, however, takes some elaborate argument. I shall have to hope that most readers are familiar with at least some of the critics. On a practical level, perhaps a better response is simply that there are a great many other skills that are also important in ethics. Again, what’s crucial is to look at the whole picture, and without the professional self-defensiveness that often tempts us to overrate the specialists’ tools we alone possess (or at least blinds us to the usefulness of others, and others’). Actually, each of the categories of practical skill outlined in this paper allows for intriguing specialization, so not just theorists but also problem-solvers, philosophers of dialogue, and all the rest can also find room here — surely a constructive development.

A third objection has to do with more "meta-ethical" issues, that is, those issues dealing with the ultimate sources of values and ethical justification. The approach outlined here, it might be said, tends to take values for granted. It doesn’t ask the fundamental questions about origins that philosophers ought to be asking, and introducing to our students. What is the status of values in the world? How do we know we’re really justified (or when we really aren’t) in the face of sharp disagreement?

Apart from the specter of relativism, though, I find that these kinds of questions are rare in introductory ethics anyway. Judging by the current crop of textbooks, at least, very few courses raise these questions as it is.

Perhaps the objection is really that on a Deweyan conception of values, such questions can’t be asked — or rather, that they have an immediate and not so interesting (or to some, philosophically objectionable?) answer, namely that valuing is a species of desiring and desire is constitutive of our very being as vulnerable creatures in a world that requires intelligent interaction if we are to survive and flourish. This is, very broadly, a "subjectivist" view of values, and hence may be thought vulnerable to the usual complaints about subjectivism: it makes values into "mere" matters of feeling; it makes it impossible to argue about values, especially across cultures or where differences are extreme; it gives values an inadequate "foundation"; etc.

"Subjectivism", naturally, is a big topic. Dewey himself took some pains to dissociate himself from the usual allegations. His response, roughly and schematically, is that ethical value is a species of reflective desire, not simply any desire as such. Learning, growth, and change are the central themes. This, however, is another big topic. I and many other Deweyans have tried to deal with it elsewhere. More to the point here, I think, is to note that nothing in the proposed course itself is actually committed to subjectivism in any form. One could teach an identical course while holding a objectivist conception of values. For objectivists too, surely, it is no less useful to be able to dialogue without falling into mere debate, to think creatively out of the usual boxes, and so on. And precisely the fact that this course does in a certain sense "take values for granted" ought to appeal to objectivists, shouldn’t it?

The approach suggested here may be called "relativistic" in that it doesn’t put any premium on resolving all disputes between different positions, or suggest any systematic way to do so. It is much more concerned with developing the skills to seek out constructive and mutual next steps, starting from a position of a diversity of values. In my view this pluralism is hardly an objection. It’s striking, moreover, that although the spectre of relativism seems to loom extremely large for some ethics instructors (and, apparently, most textbook writers), it simply doesn’t come up the minute a real issue or a real person come on the scene. (Nobody says: "Oh well, maybe racism was right for the Klan...") Despite the veneer of relativism, our students, like their professors, come with strong moral opinions. Dogmatism is the much more real danger — and there philosophers stand united.

Students do express relativistic sentiments from time to time ("Who is to say...?", etc.). I think that philosophers read too much of a theory — Relativism with a capital-R — into them. There are other and perhaps better ways to read it. Maybe when students say things like "Who am I to judge?" they are just trying to give others some moral space — and asking for space themselves, in a context where they are unsure of themselves. After all, college is a time of radical change and experiment for many people: things are in flux; they justly want room to move. Maybe they want some freedom from the moral deliverances of others, time to work things out for themselves. This is not unreasonable — and it has nothing to do with the philosophical debate about relativism. It is not wise to take a few relativistic-sounding expressions as "on the way to relativism", as it were, and then try to lay out the whole capital-R theory and de! ! feat it. We may actually make them relativists, for one thing — if they’re persuaded by this that philosophical relativism is the only way to defend the personal space they geuninely do need — and then it will be a problem. Besides, even if they really are (philosophical) relativists from the beginning, it strikes me as unwise pedagogy to think that we must begin a course by "defeating" something students are supposed to believe so strongly. Much wiser and more effective (not to mention more Deweyan) would be to take them where they are and build from there. Just point out that we do in fact have more to think about and say. Send the harder-core relativists to the critical literature (and I’ll admit that my editor did cajole me into putting a sidebar into Toolbox on the philosophical critique of relativism). You’ll have a lot more space for the real work of ethics.

IV

It may be that by concentrating on certain intellectual challenges unique to ethics, we have slighted the practical and creative and imaginative skills that are vital to ethics but not unique to it. In this regard too I think a Deweyan view is an advantage. Dewey does not see ethical thinking as somehow separate and distinct from other kinds of intelligent engagement with the world — on the contrary, it is continuous with them. It is an organic part of intelligence as such. One nice feature of the course just sketched is that all of the skills involved readily and obviously transfer to other spheres — so an ethics course, taught this way, puts ethical skills at the center of a much larger region of practical skills. But again, it is just as much the philosophical power of this vision of ethics that has concerned me here. Ethical intelligence so conceived is something not only to promote as teachers and as citizens, but could also be a professional aspir! ! ation. It is a way of being a philosopher. This is the vision, ultimately, that I wish to make concrete. It is this that stands as a challenge to the orthodox vision of the profession itself, and an invitation to once again reconstruct not just ethics but philosophy itself for a new century.

Notes

A 21st Century Ethical Toolbox is published by Oxford University Press, 2001. All of the methods hinted at here are, of course, much more fully worked out in that book, as well as some of the themes introduced in Part III. See also my short supplementary text, A Practical Companion to Ethics (2/e, Oxford University Press, 2002). My book Toward Better Problems (Temple University Press, 1992) more explicitly develops and defends a Deweyan approach to contemporary ethical problems. A fine short introduction to Dewey’s ethical philosophy is James Gouinlock’s collection The Moral Writings of John Dewey (Hafner/Macmillan, 1976). On Deweyan pedagogy, start with his lectures "School and Society", reprinted in many editions.

Critics of orthodox ethics briefly mentioned here include Albert Jonsen and Stephen Toulmin, The Abuse of Causistry (University of California Press, 1988), Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Harvard University Press, 1985) and Richard Zaner, Ethics and the Critical Encounter (Prentice-Hall, 1988). For the peculiar and determinative Sidgwickian influence on 20th-Century ethics, as well as a systematic critical alternative, see Margaret Walker, "Where Do Moral Theories Come From?", in Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics (Routledge, 1998).