Alan Donagan

Alan Donagan is the Phyllis Fay Horton Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago and is currently a visiting professor of philosophy at the California Institute of Technology. He is the author of The Theory of Morality and of a book on the later philosophy of R.G. Collingwood.

Odds and Ends

Alan Donagan, 19 April 1990

Jeffrey Stout’s Ethics after Babel is, in his own phrase, a ‘philosophy of moral diversity’ – of the sheer foreignness to some people and societies of the moral thinking of some other people and some other societies. Once satisfied that moral diversity is a fact, many philosophers despair of ethics: becoming either moral sceptics, and doubting that true answers to questions about right and wrong can be found by taking thought, or moral nihilists, and denying that moral questions have true answers. Others like Plato, conclude that ethics remains possible, but only by rising above human moral diversity to ‘a God’s-eye view’ of right and wrong. Stout’s point of departure is that to aspire to such a view is vain: it is the ancient sin symbolised as the building of the Tower of Babel. Yet he does not despair. Clearing Babel-like projects out of the way, he directs us to what, in his mind, is an acceptable alternative to them.’

Victors’ Justice

Alan Donagan, 16 February 1984

From 20 November 1945 to 1 October 1946 21 leaders of Nazi Germany stood trial before an international military tribunal at Nuremberg; all but three were found guilty, of whom 11 were sentenced to be hanged and the rest to be imprisoned for long terms. Why the trial was held at all, how it was conducted, and whether justice was done are the themes of these books.

An Identity of My Own

David Pears, 19 January 1989

The unity of my mind is something that I can appreciate when I use it, but it is hard to isolate and analyse. Without it, I could not have checked that sentence or added this one to it, and yet,...

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