Moral Clarity

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Moral Clarity, by Susam Neiman

Philosopher Susan Neiman says the world may be a confusing place, full of clashing values, beliefs and interests, but there is still such a thing as moral clarity. The Bible’s Abraham had it, she says. The ancient wanderer Odysseus had it. Politicians on the left and the right in Washington, Tel Aviv, and Tehran claim to have it.

But a lot of liberals, she says, have lost it — or at least lost its vocabulary, concepts and conviction. Time for everyone to bone up, she says.

Neiman looks out on American politics and the “culture wars” and says everyone in this country could use a little moral clarity these days. The left, she says, has grown far too wary of the very ideas of good and evil, heroism, nobility, dignity. The right, she argues, has adopted a kind of fundamentalism that takes human reason out of moral conversation.

This hour, On Point: One philosopher’s take on politics, morality and values — with an eye on the November election.

You can join the conversation. Have you got it? Moral clarity? Do Republicans? Do Democrats? What do you turn to for a clear-eyed view of the good?Guests:

Susan Neiman, a professor of philosophy and director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany. She is the author of "Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-Up Idealists." You can read the book's introduction at Neiman's website.

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly.

This program aired on September 23, 2008.


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