This is a book about ethics and stories. Ethics (or morality) encompasses what is right or good, what we ought to do, and how laws and institutions should be organized. I argue that a good way to make ethical judgments and decisions is to describe reality in the form of a true narrative. Fictional stories also support moral conclusions that can translate into real life. I argue that when the moral judgments supported by a good story conflict with general principles, we ought to follow the story and amend or suspend our principles, rather than the reverse. What makes a story “good” for this purpose is not its conformity to correct moral principles, but its merits as a narrative--for instance, its perceptiveness and coherence and its avoidance of cliché, sentimentality, and euphemism.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Principles and Stories
Peter Levine's latest book will be out soon. In the meantime, Peter posts the first paragraph of the book: