Ethical Systems: From Conclusions to Reasons


Eleanor teaches Social Studies to 6th graders and spends the bits of time left over writing books that bring history -- and magic -- to life. She enjoys rock climbing, bullet journaling, & gardening focused on plants you can actually eat.

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6 Responses

  1. Lara says:

    Have you ever read Bakhtin? His ethical systems are coming more to the forefront now as more and more people try to deal with context over dry logic ultimately disconnected from the real world. He emphasizes accountability and the need to choose and cultivate your values to be able to act on them. He believes that the world of ideas/values and the world of action are separate, that when we act we are by necessity not thinking of our values as we do. (As you’re writing, do you think, “I am writing, perhaps with the goal of making the world a better place”? Probably not. You just write.) The goal, then, is to reflect upon our values so that when we do act, we get closer to our ideals. There’s more regarding the Christian ideals of love, although you don’t have to be Christian to get behind what he’s saying.

    Anyway, I also had Michael Taber as a professor at SMCM, and your post reminded me, again, of how much I hate those stupid thought experiments (e.g., the 53937 variants of the trolley problem), so I wanted to comment. Very cool blog post.

    • Eleanor says:

      Thank you! I haven’t read Bakhtin, but that sounds like a really great way to live. Thanks for the recommendation — I’m going camping this week, and it sounds like something that would make great reading material while I’m not distracted by the bustle of life.

      What’s funny about our comment about what I think about when I’m writing is that I actually really do try to make the world a better place through my writing. My MA in Education had a class about the way that books impact students, and I’ve always tried to make it a point in my critique groups and with my own works to try and ensure that I work toward ensuring there are fewer books out there that are damaging for teens to read. No more women in refrigerators; no more stalkers-as-sweet-heroes.

      It’s one of the reasons I got out of law and into teaching — if SMCM taught me nothing else, if my degree GAVE me nothing else, it was an understanding that happiness matters, and so does having a net positive influence in the world.

      • Lara says:

        Same here. I’m also writing a novel (probably for more selfish reasons, but I hate gross tropes like the ones you mentioned for both selfish and moral reasons, so I guess it balances out). I read Bakhtin twice in grad school, once in a theory class and once in a class about the rhetorics surrounding difference. Bakhtin really loves Dostoevsky, and so do I, and so I ended up loving Bakhtin’s philosophy and literary criticism of Dostoevsky; both writers have influenced me tremendously as a writer and as a human being.

        It sounds like you’re writing fiction; what sorts of things do you write about? (I’ll have to click around the site more when I have more time.)

        • Eleanor says:

          I went on to law school instead of grad school, then wound up doing grad school in education, which is a lot more intellectually lazy as a field, I think — though the individuals involved really do rock ethical behavior impressively well. You can’t beat teachers for “a field filled with good people,” I think… but I do wish I’d gotten to read more interesting stuff.

          I write high fantasy. My St. Mary’s Project was actually called “Illuminating Ethics via Fantasy Fiction” — Schroeder was my adviser, and I’m pretty proud of it. I wrote a bunch of short stories that had a moral and then analyzed them in sequence. The introduction was all about how storytelling is one of the main ways we as a culture establish and pass on our ethical stances, and that genre fiction doesn’t have as much critical analysis directed at it as it should.

          If you’re ever looking for feedback on your novel, I highly recommend The Ubergroup as a writing group. It’s run on Scribophile, which is probably the best website for getting useful feedback I’ve ever seen.

          • Lara says:

            Cool, I’ll have to check it out!

            I had also written a short story collection as an SMP (Jerry Gabriel was my adviser).

          • Eleanor says:

            Super cool! It seems like we have a lot in common.

            Though, fun fact — I managed to get through a Philosophy degree without ever formally being assigned Neitzche, or taking a single English class.

Let me know what you think!