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By John M. Rist

John Rist surveys the heritage of ethics from Plato to the current and provides a lively defence of a moral conception in line with a revised model of Platonic realism. In a wide-ranging dialogue he examines famous possible choices to Platonism, in particular--Epicurus, Hobbes, Hume and Kant, in addition to modern ''practical reasoners''. His obtainable learn is more desirable by means of a robust experience of philosophical heritage, and may be of curiosity to scholars and students of ethics.

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That in their combined moral and intellectual capacities, that is, in their character, men are significantly unequal, above all in their ability to justify their moral beliefs. . That the notion of a just society is only intelligible if a metaphysically defensible Good exists and if the citizen-body is able, in different ways, to profit from its existence by learning the craft of living well. Such learning – or rather understanding – will require time and emotional preparation. . That problems of deception and self-deception (including outright lying) are not limited to inferior societies.

Arguably Plato was insufficiently aware of the practical difficulties of  K. R. Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies (second edition, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,  ) is only the most notorious of such simplistic misinterpretations. Morals and metaphysics  getting people to understand (rather than merely accept) that for them the best life is the life of obedience. Plato is certainly inclined to be contemptuous of ‘second-best’ individuals, but we can reasonably ask whether it is less his account of the Good than his view of the sort of training necessary to understand that Good which entails his particular version of aristocracy.

These start out by assuming that we learn our morality within moral traditions normally embedded in socio-political structures, perhaps preferably in nation-states. Since all our moral thinking occurs within the limitations of these structures, we cannot transcend or – the extreme view – legitimately criticize moral items within them, but must wait until defective traditions, confronted by superior alternatives, lose confidence in themselves and die out.   Such attitudes among ‘communitarians’ seem to arise from a failure to integrate two common features of ‘communitarian’ schemata: an   I adapt the example of a Thrasymachean treatment of dishonesty from E.

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