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The Moral Authority of Nature 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0226136813
ISBN-10: 0226136817
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

For thousands of years, people have used nature to justify their political, moral, and social judgments. Such appeals to the moral authority of nature are still very much with us today, as heated debates over genetically modified organisms and human cloning testify.

The Moral Authority of Nature offers a wide-ranging account of how people have used nature to think about what counts as good, beautiful, just, or valuable. The eighteen essays cover a diverse array of topics, including the connection of cosmic and human orders in ancient Greece, medieval notions of sexual disorder, early modern contexts for categorizing individuals and judging acts as "against nature," race and the origin of humans, ecological economics, and radical feminism. The essays also range widely in time and place, from archaic Greece to early twentieth-century China, medieval Europe to contemporary America.

Scholars from a wide variety of fields will welcome The Moral Authority of Nature, which provides the first sustained historical survey of its topic.

Contributors:
Danielle Allen, Joan Cadden, Lorraine Daston, Fa-ti Fan, Eckhardt Fuchs, Valentin Groebner, Abigail J. Lustig, Gregg Mitman, Michelle Murphy, Katharine Park, Matt Price, Robert N. Proctor, Helmut Puff, Robert J. Richards, Londa Schiebinger, Laura Slatkin, Julia Adeney Thomas, Fernando Vidal

About the Author

Lorraine Daston is the director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. She is the author of Classical Probability in the Enlightenment, coauthor of Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150 1750, and editor of Biographies of Scientific Objects, the last published by the University of Chicago Press.

Fernando Vidal is a research scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. He is author of Piaget before Piaget and the forthcoming Analyse et sauvegarde de l'âme au siècle des Lumières.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 526 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (December 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226136817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226136813
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,289,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Robert Malcom on May 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
Actually, do not let the preceding review throw anyone - Hume is by no means the last word on the 'is/ought'... Rand, for instance, provides good answers... in any case, this is a worth reading and thinking about book, if for no other reason than to consider what makes for values and which, thus, are truly in accordance with nature - and which are erroneously assumed, as justification for cultural impositions...
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3 of 49 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Heersink on August 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
I saw the title of this book, which illustrates some of the problems with University of Chicago publications of late. They used to have some degree of intellectual respectability, now it's increasingly become the imprint for all things absurd. I wonder how Adler and Hutchins feel about their College's reputation being tarred and feathered?

Frankly, the book's own promotion is a reason to ignore it. "For thousands of years, people have used nature to justify their political, moral, and social judgments." Well, hyperbole aside, the Is/Ought (Fact/Value) Divide and its kindred fallacy, the naturalistic fallacy, are fairly well established (is/ought from Hume in 1740, Moore's naturalistic fallacy in 1903). I guess our editors are so PostModern they ignored Modernity and skipped their facts for their values.

So, without needing to read the book to know it is nonsensical, I simply offer possible readers some philosophical advice: Facts do not values make, nor values a fact make. Hume's Is/Ought Divide is a chasm that cannot be crossed, not even with PostModernism's tactics. No one denies FACTS are valuable, nor VALUES help us find facts. Yet, for their epistemic foundations, "nature" is in the realm of FACTS, and "morality" is in the realm of VALUES. For those with philosophical parlance, epistemological and axiological spheres of human judgment do not "interbreed."

Proceed at your own risk. Watch for fallacies falling.
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