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Moral Contexts

Margaret Urban Walker

Many contexts shape and limit moral thinking in philosophy and life. Human conditions of vulnerability and interdependency, of limited awareness and control, of imperfect insight into ourselves and others are inevitable contexts that neither moral thought nor theory should forget. To be truly reflective, moral thinking and moral philosophy must become aware of the contexts that bind our thinking about how to live. This collection of essays by Margaret Urban Walker seek to show how to do this, and why it makes a difference.

Contingent and changeable contexts that shape moral thinking include our individual histories, our social positions, and institutional roles, relationships, cultural settings, and social arrangements, and the specific moral idioms we pick up along the way. The paradigms and specialized language of ethical theory are contexts, too; they shape how moral theory looks and what or whom it looks at. Ethical theory and practice are meaningless without these Moral Contexts.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 248Size: 6 x 9 1/4
978-0-7425-1378-5 • Hardback • November 2002 • $117.00 • (£75.00)
978-0-7425-1379-2 • Paperback • November 2002 • $38.00 • (£24.95)
978-1-4616-0944-5 • eBook • November 2002 • $36.00 • (£24.95)
Margaret Urban Walker is Lincoln Professor of Ethics, Justice, and the Public Sphere in the School of Justice Studies at Arizona State University. She is the editor of Mother Time: Women, Aging, and Ethics (Rowman & Littlefield, 1999).
Chapter 1 Introduction: The Place of Moral Thinking
Part 2 Part One: Concepts Absent or Ignored
Chapter 3 Moral Particularity
Chapter 4 Moral Luck and the Virtues of Impure Agency
Chapter 5 Partial Consideration
Part 6 Part Two: Feminism as Theory and Context
Chapter 7 What Does the Different Voice Say? Gilligan's Women and Moral Philosophy
Chapter 8 Moral Understandings: Alternative 'Epistemology' for a Feminist Ethics
Chapter 9 Feminism, Ethics, and the Question of Theory
Chapter 10 Seeing Power in Morality: A Proposal for Feminist Naturalism in Ethics
Chapter 11 Some Thoughts on Feminists, Philosophy, and Feminist Philosophy
Part 12 Part Three: Institutional and Social Contexts
Chapter 13 Keeping Moral Space Open: New Images of Ethics Consulting
Chapter 14 Ineluctable Feelings and Moral Recognition
Chapter 15 Naturalizing, Normativity, and Using What 'We' Know in Ethics
Chapter 16 Getting Out of Line: Alternatives to Life as a Career
Part 17 Part Four: The 'Human' Context
Chapter 18 Human Conditions
Margaret Walker is one of the most profound and original moral philosophers writing today. These essays, written over a period of fifteen years, reveal many ways in which unacknowledged ethical contexts shape not only the perceptions and daily choices of ordinary human beings but also the dominant styles of philosophical ethics.
Alison Jaggar, University of Colorado at Boulder

Margaret Walker says 'when context is ignored or effaced in theorizing, what we get is irrelevant or bad theory (xiii).' In her welcome new collection of essays, she shows just how right this is. The essays are often surprising, and always powerful and important. This book is a must read for all who want relevant and good ethics.
Michael Stocker, Syracuse University

Feminist philosopher Margaret Urban Walker makes a compelling case for moral thinking that takes context, particulars, and partiality into account. Suitable for readers in many disciplines, it will be far more difficult arguing against a feminist ethics after reading this thoughtful and compassionate book.
Journal of Moral Education

Margaret Urban Walker's essays offer a sustained philosophical analysis and defense of what is often called "an ethics of care." Describing the work here as simply a defense of an ethics of care, as a substantive ethical theory, would be a disservice insofar as Walker tackles numerous metaethical issues with acumen and clarity. This book makes a valuable contribution to philosophical discourse in metaethics and normative ethics, interjecting a uniquely feminist perspective.
Lori Watson, Eastern Michigan University

Margaret Walker writes, 'feminist ethics is not about women but about ethics. Its project is to rethink ethics…' In this collection of previously published essays, Walker's wisdom about how to rethink the nature of ethics shines brilliantly, and affords her readers a chance to see how her ideas have developed over time.
Joan Tronto