Messy Morality

Messy Morality : The Challenge of Politics

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Tony Coady explores the challenges that morality poses to politics. He confronts the complex intellectual tradition known as realism, which seems to deny any relevance of morality to politics, especially international politics. He argues that, although realism has many serious faults, it has lessons to teach us: in particular, it cautions us against the dangers of moralism in thinking about politics and particularly foreign affairs. Morality must not be confused with moralism: Coady characterizes various forms of moralism and sketches their distorting influence on a realistic political morality. He seeks to restore the concept of ideals to an important place in philosophical discussion, and to give it a particular pertinence in the discussion of politics. He deals with the fashionable idea of 'dirty hands', according to which good politics will necessarily involve some degree of moral taint or corruption. Finally, he examines the controversial issue of the role of lying and deception in politics. Along the way Coady offers illuminating discussion of historical and current political controversies. This lucid book will provoke and stimulate anyone interested in the interface of morality and more

Product details

  • Hardback | 144 pages
  • 140 x 204 x 16mm | 258.55g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199212082
  • 9780199212088
  • 2,048,344

Review quote

In this captivating volume, C. A. J. Coady examines some of the challenges that politics poses for morality. For Coady, the challenges include the very nature of political reality, the prevalence of moralism, the role of ideals in politics, and the spectres of deception and dirty hands... Throughout the book, Coady blends well-informed, forthright criticism of recent policies, such as the US led invasion and occupation of Iraq, with cogent philosophical reflection and analysis... The book is a deceptively enjoyable read that, despite its size, makes a valuable contribution to important topics in normative theory and political philosophy. * Kimberley Brownlee, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews * Those who know Tony Coady's writing will find its customary qualities on display pellucid prose, philosophical intelligence, wit, and a fierce and impatient disdain for those who abuse the privileges of power or the requirements of rational argument... this elegant essay is a worthy addition to the literature * David Archard, Contemporary Political Theory *show more

About Professor C. A. J. Coady

C. A. J. Coady is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. He also founded and became director of the Centre for Philosophy and Public Issues, the first centre in Australia to be concerned with broad issues of philosophy and public affairs. His research areas include political violence, terrorism, and just war more

Table of contents

1. Morality, moralism, and realism ; 2. Moralistic strictures and political reality-further quandaries ; 3. Concerning ideals ; 4. Engagement in evil: politics, dirty hands, and corruption ; 5. Politics and lyingshow more

Rating details

9 ratings
3.66 out of 5 stars
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3 22% (2)
2 11% (1)
1 0% (0)
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