Anachronism of the Moral Sentiments? Integrity, Postmodernism, and Justice
36 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2017
Date Written: February 1, 1999
This is an article about the relationship between postmodernism and justice. My topic is the apparent disjunction between postmodernists' moral and political intuitions on the one hand and their philosophical views and cultural leanings on the other. Crudely put, the article asks what we can learn from the fact that someone who rejects the notion of "integrity" as either a psychological, moral, or textual quality nevertheless condemns the dean or the senator for having "no integrity," and admires the display of principled consistency in public life or the interpretation of the Constitution. To put it differently, can you be a postmodernist and still believe that the laudable difference between, say, Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton, is the difference between a principled ascetic who would go to jail for his beliefs and a pack of cut-out caricatures, reshuffled at every shift in public opinion, held together only by an expensive suit and a set of selfish appetites?
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