Review of the Week: 1/30/17

Our current Review of the Week examines aspects of ethics related to humans and animals.

Inside ethics : on the demands of moral thought

Crary, Alice. Harvard, 2016
283p index, 9780674967816 $49.95, 9780674089075

Crary (New School) offers a finely developed account and defense of a new concept of moral understanding closely tied to the cultivation of moral sensitivity. This concept calls for the development of feelings that enable one to see objective, empirically given moral characteristics of people and animals as ethically salient, as “inside ethics.” Such a dramatic shift in perspective, both in theory and in practice, is essential to moral development. It requires that one recognize what matters to creatures of various kinds: human beings, dogs, horses, and other animals, whether they are well and flourishing or ill or even dead. Thus, one becomes able to see and respect human beings and animals; one “gets” the importance of sociability for dogs, for example, or mobility for all animals. Such a broadening of the concept of objectivity and rationality makes it possible to see and articulate clearly what is wrong with many current practices. Including compelling examples from literary works by authors such as Leo Tolstoy, J. M. Coetzee, Andrew Solomon, and others, Crary illustrates the theory and the practice of emotional development. Many sections of this book are accessible to those without a background in theory.

Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.
Reviewer: S. A. Mason, Concordia University
Readership Level: Upper-division Undergraduates, Graduate Students, Researchers/Faculty
Subject: Humanities – Philosophy
Choice Issue: Jul 2016