Review Of "The Geography Of Morals: Varieties Of Moral Possibility" By O. J. Flanagan

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In several of his recent books, Flanagan (Duke) has urged readers to not only learn about and appreciate the way people of different cultures and world views think, believe, and act—especially with regard to mind and morals—but also learn from those various beliefs. In the present book, Flanagan stresses the need to bring to bear everything one knows about human beings from primatology, neuroscience, evolution, empirical studies, and literary and artistic expressions. This is an enormous task, to say the least, and Flanagan manages it by comparing and contrasting different approaches to virtues, character, and norms and including lists of books by Western and Eastern philosophers who provide greater depth and detail. There is a lengthy discussion of Buddhist contributions to metaphysics and morals—and their relationship—and a briefer discussion of Confucianism. Flanagan writes in a lucid, informal—even chatty— style with lots of autobiographical detail. With its brief overview and many comparisons between Western and non-Western approaches, this is a good book for those embarking on study of the geography of morals, but it is a sketch rather than a detailed map. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates; general readers.


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