Is it possible to infer values about what we ought to do from facts about how the world is? This question introduces a major problem within meta-ethics, which is how to philosophically justify ethical obligations. In this interview, Dr. Phillip Cary explains how these difficulties in meta-ethics arose out of the political, philosophical, and scientific context of the 17th and 18th centuries. Building on the work of Alasdair MacIntyre, Cary suggests that we have been left with the fragments of a once coherent tradition. The rise of Postmodernism offers a unique opportunity to return to this earlier tradition, and to recover a context in which discussion of virtues make sense. Questions covered in this podcast include:
- Is it possible to philosophically justify ethical obligations?
- What is the central Postmodern insight?
- Is the anti-traditional bias in Modernism itself a type of tradition?
- What is the good for which human beings were created?
- How is training in virtue tried to the pursuit of wisdom?
- In what way do traditions create a context for virtue and rationality?
- Does Hume’s famous is-ought gap show forth the failure of the Enlightenment project?
- Can competing traditions speak to each other?
- How does a recovery of teleology or final causation help us affirm a truth about the good?