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Iris Murdoch, Philosopher$
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Justin Broackes

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199289905

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199289905.001.0001

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The Exploration of Moral Life

The Exploration of Moral Life

(p.197) 5 The Exploration of Moral Life*
Iris Murdoch, Philosopher

Carla Bagnoli

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Murdoch’s main and not yet fully acknowledged contribution to moral philosophy is to reclaim the concepts for exploring the activities of the mind, a topic that had become outcast with logical positivism. In contrast to current realist and particularist interpretations of Murdoch’s philosophy, Bagnoli argues that Murdoch’s project does not amount to a retrieval of metaphysics, but it requires a complex moral psychology. Murdoch shows that in order to explain the phenomena of moral change and progress, we need a conception of objectivity that recognizes the historicity and dynamicity of the moral life. According to Bagnoli, this account of objectivity does not presume the truth of moral realism, but it rather shows its inadequacy. The relevant progress that Murdoch underscores is from abstraction to concreteness in moral vision, and it requires that we focus on the constructive activity of the mind. While non-cognitivist and realist accounts of deliberation fail to acknowledge such essential constructive power of the mind, Murdoch offers the rudiments of a developmental account of agency.

Keywords:   deliberation, objectivity, action, moral phenomenology, constructivism, particularism, Kant, Hegel, G.E. Moore, J. L. Austin

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