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  • Writer's pictureRicky

I got a Job

First off, if you’re on the committee of a university I’ve applied to, I’m very sorry. It took me thirty minutes to figure out how to withdraw from the first three applications (it’s weirdly hard!), so I gave up for a few hours, and when I came back one of those three jobs had sent me a rejection email anyway. So then I gave up for a while longer. Sorry, I’ll try again soon.

Second, I’ll be at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics as a Hecht-Levi Postdoctoral Fellow starting this fall to work on bioethics and AI.

Baltimore! I can’t wait. That sounds fun. Now I gotta find an apartment and submit my revised dissertation. Wow I was supposed to grade papers and pack for today’s roadtrip and I’m in two Friday reading groups. And apparently I owe my commentator a full draft of my paper on AI and the future of work (currently a 700 word abstract) by March 15th.

So sorry I’m running behind. But here’s a teaser about this book I just read called Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry where Alasdair MacIntyre argues that different moral frameworks are asking different questions, and looking for different kinds of answers.

And so it’s not so easy for them to talk to one another, or even about one another, without misrepresenting each other’s positions. Translating your ideas into my framework does violence to whatever it is you were trying to say!

The three frameworks he’s comparing are:

  • Thomists (Sophisticated Catholics trying to unite Aristotle and Augustine. Good luck!)

  • Encyclopaedists (Post-Renaissance thinkers who trust more and more in secular reasoning over time.)

  • Genealogists (Weirdos like Nietzsche who try to show that everyone else’s moral talk is radically self-deceiving and probably just papers over power relations and ulterior motives they might not even recognize in themselves. Go Nietzsche!)

So how are these very different frameworks gonna talk to one another?

Can one framework ever prove its superiority over the others?

Or is the shift from one framework to another less a matter of reason and argumentative dominance and more a matter of something like faith?

Well, the genealogists think the encyclopaedists are trying to smile their way through some tremendous cognitive dissonance. God is dead—we enlightened folks know enough not to believe in him anymore—but weirdly enough, our secular moral understanding, and even our sense that we know what morality is about, hasn’t really changed! Good news everyone, morality’s pretty much the same as we always thought, we might just have to translate everything into talk of rights, or maybe the more scientifically-tractable language of pleasure and pain, but anyway that’s what we were really talking about all along.

Hmm yeah that does seem pretty unpromising.

Meanwhile, the Thomists are going oh man, no one’s ever gonna get a good understanding of morality if they leave out the Creator! Everyone else is on a wild goose chase! And boy doesn’t the encyclopaedist look a bit smug grinning over their own distorted version of the history of morality and imagining that their own position is the result of substantial moral progress rather than some confused and irrelevant “schmoral” diversion.

And the genealogists? Oof, they’re not off the hook. The Thomists think someone like Nietzsche is clearly just suffering from his own tremendous cognitive dissonance—the sin of willful pride—and dressing it up in flashy diatribes. And you know what? They’re definitely onto something…

Moves and countermoves. How are these apparently incommensurable world views ever going to talk to one another? And how will that conversation go?

Sorry to end on a cliffhanger but I really should pack clothes.

If you still miss me here’s my video again it took a long time okay bye

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