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Living with One's Past Personal Fates and Moral Pain by Norman S. Care

Living with One's Past Personal Fates and Moral Pain


Living with One's Past Personal Fates and Moral Pain by Norman S. Care

Alcoholism, major depression, debilitating shyness or extreme anxiety may all lead to personal failings and even moral wrongdoing that we can neither explain nor ignore. How are we to deal with these failings in our own pasts? How should we think about agency or responsibility in other people who suffer from such difficulties? What does morality require of us in living with these people? In this original and eloquent work, Norman S. Care addresses these questions from both theoretical and personal perspectives, just as John Rawls's A Theory of Justice offered a set of principles by which the members of a society might reconcile themselves to their own and others' failings. Along the way, Care challenges the idea that individuals are masters of their own fate, discusses the persona moralism that enables us to blame ourselves and others, and considers in a positive way the famous twelve-step Alcoholics Anonymous program, interesting because it acknowledges that recovery may not occur for some alcoholics who attempt to follow it. Living with One's Past will be of interest not only to philosophers, psychologists, health-care and social service providers, but also to anyone whose life has been affected by his or her own or others' moral failings.


This book has a most resounding virtue: It is an essay in moral philosophy written about the ordinary life. Care's book is not about weakness of will at least not as philosophers typically write about that phenomenon. Most cases of weakness of will discussed by philosophers never have this level of poignancy.--Laurence Thomas, Syracuse University The Philosophical Review, Vol. 107, No. 2 ( April 1998)

About the Author

Norman S. Care is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the department at Oberlin College. He is the author of On Sharing Fate (1987).

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Book Info

Publication date

1st January 2000


Norman S. Care

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Rowman & Littlefield


212 pages


Ethics & moral philosophy



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