Welcome to our discussion thread on Owen Flanagan’s The Geography of Morals, recently reviewed by Regina Rini for NDPR. We have invited Owen and Regina to provide any comments they’d like on either the book or the review, and we hope other readers of PEA Soup will chime in with thoughts on either the book or the review as well.
From the OUP blurb: “The Geography of Morals is a work of extraordinary ambition: an indictment of the parochialism of Western philosophy, a comprehensive dialogue between anthropology, empirical moral psychology, behavioral economics, and cross-cultural philosophy, and a deep exploration of the opportunities for self, social, and political improvement provided by world philosophy.”
From Rini’s review: “Overall, the book does an excellent job of stretching the acknowledged possibility space of morality. Flanagan convincingly shows that we cannot responsibly conduct ethical inquiry in ignorance of cultural diversity. But I remained frustrated by the book’s unclear positive answers to normative questions. Flanagan himself puts the challenge well: ‘How do we tell when a genealogy of morals has not just produced a morality — that is guaranteed — but a good one, a morality that is ethical, an ethical morality, a truly good way of living, of being human?’ (106) This is exactly what we need to ask, once our cross-cultural surveying has laid out the genuine possibilities. But Flanagan never entirely answers.”4