T.M. Scanlon

T.M. Scanlon is a professor of philosophy at Harvard University.

Local Justice

T.M. Scanlon, 5 September 1985

Has contemporary moral and political philosophy placed too much emphasis on a mistaken search for ‘rational foundations’ for our moral beliefs? A number of recent writers have suggested in various ways that it has. Two stimulating books by Michael Walzer and by Stuart Hampshire make distinctive contributions to this debate. Both are more personal than most books in moral philosophy, and each gives the clear sense of an author working to understand and articulate values about which he cares deeply. Taken together, they offer related but contrasting reasons for turning our attention away from universal principles towards more local values.

A tyrant, imagine, spares an innocent man from torture, but solely in order to reap good publicity. He does what morality demands, but not for the reasons that demand it. T.M. Scanlon’s new...

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On occasion we are faced with acute moral choices – whether to join the Resistance or stay at home and care for our widowed mother; whether to run off with Vronsky or remain with Karenin....

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