Philosophy Colloquium
Karen Stohr
Georgetown University
The Starry Sky Above Me: Living Non-Ideally By My Ideals

We have moral ideals to which we aspire. We also routinely and predictably fail to live up to those ideals. Considered as a practical moral problem, this may seem to have a straightforward solution—we should just act better! This answer, while true, is far too simple. Failures to live up to ideals are not all of a kind. Some we cannot or will not acknowledge as failures in the first place. Some failures call for guilt or remorse; others we may think justified in light of conflicting ideals or circumstantial constraints. Even justified failures to live up to ideals may produce moral residue or generate other kinds of moral obligations. In this talk, I explore the concept of a regulative normative ideal and the practical ramifications of such ideals for flawed moral agents. I argue that in a non-ideal world, living by an ideal demands that agents take up a wide range of actions and attitudes related to that ideal. These actions and attitudes are essential to the moral life and our efforts to engage in it well.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Skinner 1115