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Abstract: Clarifying the essential experiential structures at work in our everyday moral engagements promises both (1) to provide a perspicacious self-understanding, and (2) to significantly contribute to theoretical and practical matters of moral philosophy. Since the phenomenological enterprise is concerned with revealing the a priori structures of experience in general, it is then well positioned to discern the essential structures of moral experience specifically. Phenomenology can therefore significantly contribute to matters pertaining to moral philosophy. In this paper I would like to contribute to the relatively small yet burgeoning field of phenomenological ethics. I endeavour to do so by first identifying and consolidating the basic level of sense-bestowal, and then outlining the a priori structures of volition in order to demonstrate how such phenomenologically discerned structures are required for moral experience. Specifically, in section one I locate moral experience as at the level of meaning that is phenomenologically identified as the life-world, and then vindicate the life-world by illustrating how it is immune to naturalistic rationalisation. By thus both securing the level of meaning that is of concern and importantly delimiting the scope of our analysis, I proceed in section two to relate the volitional analyses of Aristotle, Husserl, and Heidegger. This relation is achieved thanks to a conceptual point of continuity: ‘prohairesis’. By examining the function of this concept (as an intentional structure) and its phenomenological continuity, the ground is then prepared for further phenomenological analyses of the virtues.
Abstract: Bodhicaryåvatåra was composed by the Buddhist monk scholar Íåntideva at Nalandå University in India sometime during the 8th Century CE. It stands as one the great classics of world philosophy and of Buddhist literature, and is enormously influential in Tibet, where it is regarded as the principal source for the ethical thought of Mahåyåna Buddhism. The title is variously translated, most often as A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life or Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds, translations that follow the canonical Tibetan translation of the title of the book (Byang chub sems pa’i spyod pa la ‘jug pa) and the commentarial tradition of Tibet. But that translation itself is a bit of a gloss on the original Sanskrit, and I think that a more natural English rendering of the Sanskrit title is simply How to Lead an Awakened Life, and that indeed describes the content of the text admirably. Taking this as the title of the text might also issue in a kind of gestalt shift in our view of the text, allowing us to see it not so much as a characterization of the extraordinary moral life of a saint, but as a guide to moral development open to any of us. So, let’s take that as the English title for now
Abstract: Many moral philosophers in the Western tradition have used phenomenological claims as starting points for philosophical inquiry; aspects of moral phenomenology have often been taken to be anchors to which any adequate account of morality must remain attached. This paper raises doubts about whether moral phenomena are universal and robust enough to serve the purposes to which moral philosophers have traditionally tried to put them. Persons’ experiences of morality may vary in a way that greatly limits the extent to which moral phenomenology can constitute a reason to favor one moral theory over another. Phenomenology may not be able to serve as a pre-theoretic starting point or anchor in the consideration of rival moral theories because moral phenomenology may itself be theory-laden. These doubts are illustrated through an examination of how moral phenomenology is used in the thought of Ralph Cudworth, Samuel Clarke, Joseph Butler, Francis Hutcheson, and Søren Kierkegaard
Abstract: In this paper, I address the what, the how, and the why of moral phenomenology. I consider first the question What is moral phenomenology?, secondly the question How to pursue moral phenomenology?, and thirdly the question Why pursue moral phenomenology? My treatment of these questions is preliminary and tentative, and is meant not so much to settle them as to point in their answers’ direction