In this important collection of essays, Kelly Oliver advances, with a nod to Levinas and Derrida, an exciting new approach to ethics. Moving beyond ancient and modern traditions founded on character habits or moral rules, this emerging tradition recasts ethics as an ability to take responsibility for others in their unique singularity. But Oliver’s reflections carry her beyond contributions from major figures. Stepping back from deconstruction’s abyss of alterity, she delivers possibilities for communion. Drawing from psychoanalytic theory, she insists on responsibility for the unconscious. And alert to environmental crisis, she broadens ethics’ reach beyond our species finally to the earth itself.
This rich collection of Oliver’s essays, which both articulates the philosophical basis of her original idea of response ethics and addresses crucial issues of our time, is a gift to all concerned with the issues she courageously addresses. Oliver’s work on how humans become a subject through relations with other humans allows her to make important connections between subjectivity and morality. Her work on animals shows us a different way of being with other creatures that does not fall into the dilemmas of recent post humanist literature.