Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dentsoras, Dimitrios. "Review of Terence Irwin's THE DEVELOPMENT OF ETHICS, Vol. 1." NDPR (July 2008).

Irwin, Terence. From Socrates to the Reformation. Vol. 1 of The Development of Ethics: a Historical and Critical Study. Oxford: OUP, 2007. In the first volume of his The Development of Ethics, Terence Irwin undertakes the ambitious task of offering a historical and critical study of moral philosophy from Socrates to the Reformation. Unlike other works on the history of ethics, Irwin does not simply give a sequential exposition of various historical moral theories, accompanied by an account of the possible philosophical foundations and merits of each theory. Rather, Irwin views the development of ethics as part of a tradition -- what he calls the "Socratic tradition," which he approaches in a critical manner. Not afraid of expressing his own philosophical preferences, Irwin places Aristotelian naturalism at the center of his exposition, and defends its importance in the history of ethics, as well as its basic philosophical soundness. He does so while remaining historically sensitive and accurate. Irwin achieves this by restricting his critical comments to their historical context, and showing that the original texts are rich enough to express (and perhaps reply to) our contemporary critical philosophical demands. Irwin is aware that his approach is not the only one, but argues convincingly that it is an important one that can promote our understanding both of ethics and of its history. . . . Read the rest here:

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