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Lovibond, Sabina, , . Ethical Formation
2002, Harvard University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Sabina Lovibond invites her readers to see how the ‘practical reason view of ethics’ can survive challenges from within philosophy and from the antirationalist postmodern critique of reason.
She elaborates and defends a modern practical-reason view of ethics by focusing on virtue or ideal states of character that involve sensitivity to the objective reasons circumstances bring into play. At the heart of her argument is the Aristotelian idea of the formation of character through upbringing; these ancient ideas can be made contemporary if one understands them in a naturalized way. She then explores the implications that arise from the naturalization of the classical view, weaving into her theory ideas of Jacques Derrida and J. L. Austin. The book also discusses two modes of resistance to an existing ethical culture – one committed to the critical employment of shared norms of rationality, the other aspiring to a more radical attitude, grounded in hostility to the ‘universal.’ Lovibond tries to determine what may be correct in this second, admittedly paradoxical, tendency.

This is a timely and valuable effort to connect the most advanced forms of thinking in the analytic tradition and in the Continental tradition, and to extend our understanding of the intimacies and resistances between these two prominent strands of contemporary philosophy.

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Sherman, Nancy, , . Torturers and the Tortured
2006, South African Journal of Philosophy 25(1): 77-88.
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Added by: John Baldari, Contributed by:

Abstract: Patrick Lenta and Jessica Wolfendale have written two very thoughtful discussions on torture. A central question that arises in responding to these essays in terms of my recent book, Stoic Warriors, is whether ancient Stoicism affords any insights into both the propensity to inflict torture as well as the capacity to endure it. Wolfendale suggests that the learned capacity to endure torture, and in particular, becoming desensitised to pain, may be part of the psychological background that informs a willingness to inflict torture. Training in resisting torture, such as that which special operations troops typically go through, involves not only learning techniques, which can then be reverse engineered in applying torture (what some argue has happened in Guantanamo Bay), but also learning the kind of stress inoculation that makes one willing to use those techniques. In short, military training that involves torture resistance hardens one’s soul and makes one indifferent to the suffering that torture involves. This indifference, Wolfendale claims, is not unlike Stoic apathy. I want to argue, on the contrary, that Stoic apathy is substantively different. However, before making the case, I take up a number of other preliminary points raised in both papers. I conclude with some remarks about interrogation in general.

Comment: This article is useful for post ad bellum discussions in philosophy of war, in addition to being recommended additional reading for political philosophy and ethics.

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