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Who are Moral Philosophers? Ethics James Style

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The paper argues that although James succeeds in showing how his conception of the moral philosopher’s concrete standpoint rebukes traditional moral philosophy’s preoccupation with demonstrating other-regarding obligations to an egoist skeptic, his meta-ethical argument for inclusivity seems vulnerable to the sort of skeptical doubts raised by Aiken/Talisse’s (2011) intolerant fundamentalist. I argue that an explication of the concrete experiential starting point of James’ moral philosophy puts to rest these doubts. This standpoint includes James’ relational account of the self, which stresses identity formation via the capacity to sympathetically apprehend the point of view of others, and James’ phenomenological exploration, in the essay “On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings,” of the experience of overcoming blindness to others’ alien ideals.


Todd Lekan    
Muskingum Univeristy
United States


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