Charles Taylor’s Moral Ontology: a Case for Moral Realism

Taylor’s Moral Ontology.current McGill Professor Emeritus Charles Taylor, speaks to the recovery of moral agency in late modernity through realigning the self or identity with the rich language of the good. He follows Iris Murdoch in the quest. There is a strong hermeneutical and phenomenological component in his brilliant argument in Sources of the Self.

~Dr. Gordon Carkner, GFCF Committee   A Timely Reboot of the Moral Economy

From his research on liberating the self in late modernity, Dr. Gordon E. Carkner delves into the question of how we can ‘reboot’ our moral economy today. He draws on the insights of eminent Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor. In his project Sources of the Self, Taylor recovers a language and ethos of the moral good deeply relevant to our pluralistic world, a boon for individuals and society. Dr. Carkner gives a concise overview of this landmark contribution to ethics, the moral imagination and human agency. It is a retrieval project, a re-articulation of these ancient goods and how they operate powerfully in our daily lives. Taylor offers fresh understanding of the crucial ‘qualities’ that empower the human will, awakens us from our moral autism, and challenges us to reconnect with critical sources of the moral.

Charles Taylor’s Moral Ontology Gordon Carkner completed his doctorate in 2006 on the topic of “A Critical Examination of the Constitution of the Moral Self in Michel Foucault in Dialogue with Charles Taylor” through the University of Wales, UK. Together with key faculty members and graduate students, he supports a significant dialogue at University of British Columbia called the Graduate & Faculty Christian Forum.

Abstract Many people today are discouraged by the moral (or amoral, nihilistic) drift in Western society and wonder if they can have any serious moral engagement in a culture world with such a strong emphasis on individual choice, taste and radical freedom. Freedom currently in the West is often claimed as an ontological position, a reality within which one can justifiably choose one’s own moral parameters and construct or re-invent one’s self. Taylor asks what is the content of that freedom, and what would a positive, rich view of freedom look like?

Today we can feel powerless, disengaged, and a bit odd for holding any moral convictions.. This article suggests that eminent Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor, can be of strategic assistance to moral grounding in the recovery of a language of the good and a renewal of normativity. He reframes the whole philosophical discourse by rooting in how we actually make moral decisions and judgments. Taylor employs a language that a “pluralistic audience” can both understand and engage, both intellectually and personally. This article outlines his moral ontology of the good, with a particular emphasis on the vital concept of qualitative discriminations. It reveals that aspirations towards the good can be a robust challenge to the solipsism and a framework in which robust moral dialogue can take place. Thereby he avoids the current drift towards moral subjectivism and relativism.

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