Monday, May 08, 2017

MORAL ILLITERACY by Richard Kirk (Amazon Kindle)

Most Americans are now morally illiterate—incapable of engaging in serious moral analysis. Exhibit A in favor of this proposition is the frequency with which the rhetorical challenge, "Who's to say what's right or wrong?" is used to shut down moral discussion--and then met with confused silence by the question's victim. The first chapter of this book provides a succinct and convincing reply to that challenge. Subsequent chapters analyze other comments designed to avoid serious moral reflection--statements like the following: "It's just entertainment," "Ethics is really personal," "I gotta be me," "Be true to what you believe." The substitution of the term "value" for "virtue" and the modern redefinition of the term "hypocrisy" are additional linguistic shell games that have contributed to Americans' inability and unwillingness to engage in meaningful moral discourse. The former change makes possible the morality-negating declaration that one is "entitled to his own values," while the latter disposes of the no-longer-popular aphorism, "Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice gives to virtue." A concluding chapter explains "What went wrong?" and points an accusing finger at the electronic traveling salesmen who replaced the moral guides who provided most of our ethical instruction prior to the advent of mass electronic communication. This changing of the moral guard is an immensely important and little-discussed cultural event that substituted advertisers, celebrities, and media movers and shakers for the ministers, parents, and persons of character who traditionally provided the lion's share of moral messaging in actual communities. The philosophical roots of our nation's moral illiteracy are also discussed briefly in this work, but these comments do not by any stretch of the imagination constitute a ponderous philosophical lecture. On the other hand, individuals who find moral discourse quite distasteful, will find the contents of this book hard to swallow.