A Decent Life

About the Author: Todd May

Todd May is a political philosopher notable for his role in developing, alongside Saul Newman and Lewis Call, the theory of post structuralist anarchism 1 He is currently Class of 1941 Memorial Professor of Philosophy at Clemson University and contributes to CounterPunch His 1994 book The Political Philosophy of Poststructuralist Anarchism was the first to combine poststructuralist and anarchis


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  • Hardcover
  • 232 pages
  • A Decent Life
  • Todd May
  • 05 January 2018
  • 9780226609744

A Decent Life You Re Probably Never Going To Be A Saint Even So, Let S Face It You Could Be A Better Person We All Could But What Does That Mean For You In A World Full Of Suffering And Deprivation, It S Easy To Despair And It S Also Easy To Judge Ourselves For Not Doing Even If We Gave Away Everything We Own And Devoted Ourselves To Good Works, It Wouldn T Solve All The World S Problems It Would Make Them Better, Though So Is That What We Have To Do Is Anything Less A Moral Failure Can We Lead A Fundamentally Decent Life Without Taking Such Drastic Steps Todd May Has Answers He S Not The Sort Of Philosopher Who Tells Us We Have To Be Model Citizens Who Display Perfect Ethics In Every Decision We Make He S Realistic He Understands That Living Up To Ideals Is A Constant Struggle In A Decent Life, May Leads Readers Through The Traditional Philosophical Bases Of A Number Of Arguments About What Ethics Asks Of Us, Then He Develops A Reasonable And Achievable Way Of Thinking About Them, One That Shows Us How We Can Use Philosophical Insights To Participate In The Complicated World Around Us He Explores How We Should Approach The Many Relationships In Our Lives With Friends, Family, Animals, People In Need Through The Use Of A Forgiving, If No Less Fundamentally Serious, Moral Compass With Humor, Insight, And A Lively And Accessible Style, May Opens A Discussion About How We Can, Realistically, Lead The Good Life That We Aspire To A Philosophy Of Goodness That Leaves It All But Unattainable Is Ultimately Self Defeating Instead, Todd May Stands At The Forefront Of A New Wave Of Philosophy That Sensibly Reframes Our Morals And Redefines What It Means To Live A Decent Life.

10 thoughts on “A Decent Life

  1. Lee says:

    I read this because I was curious what the consultant on philosophy and morality for The Good Place would have to say This isn t a primer on the academic side of morality often seen in that show The initial chapter lays down a basis for morality derived from a few sources, some modern Then the chapters are divided by applying that to those you directly interact with in life outward to aspects of life you don t have direct interaction with people you don t know, animals and environment, and society politics I found the early chapters a dense read but the later chapters, especially on environment and politics, to be much easier to read It s well done but those that are on the conservative end ...

  2. Kristen McBee says:

    A readable text about finding the sweet spot between moral depravity and moral altruism in which we can realistically conduct our lives As expected with philosophical content, it leaves a lot to for the reader to think about, but May also offers examples of concrete actions as guidance.

  3. Angie Boyter says:

    If you want to read this book, you re halfway there Todd May is a professor of philosophy at Clemson University who has written books on subjects like poststructuralist anarchism These books are not likely to show up on most people s bookshelves or Kindles, but this book might and maybe even should.A number of philosophers throughout the ages have developed schools of ethical thought, and in the first chapter May discusses theories like consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics from thinkers like Immanuel Kant, Aristotle, and Peter Singer The problem with most of these theories, in May s opinion, is that they set the bar too high or too abstractly, and it would be difficult to live up to their requirements So A Decent Life doesn t try to define what it means to lead a good life at a level that most people could not attain, such as altruism Instead it lays out how we might lead a decent life , an approach that recognizes our moral limits It also avoids for the most part casting moral actions in terms of duties or obligations but instead emphasizes conducting ourselves to make other lives and our often fraught world a little better off because of our presence.May s approach to morality has a simple framework, the idea that decent moral action recog...

  4. Earl says:

    A Decent Life by Todd May puts into words a way of living a decent life, which in his terms is one that is moral without being either unattainable or too difficult as in requiring so much selfless action as to be counter to one s own happiness.Like one of my early professors of ethics and moral philosophy used to say, the theories that we study are just that, theories Each has strengths and weaknesses More practically, they each seem particularly useful in some situations while being almost absurd in others He referred to these as the elements in a moral or ethical toolbox In other words, we take life as it happens and do what we feel is the most ethical thing for each situation Not quite the same as what has been called situational ethics, which still has some strict aspects to it Some situations call for a utilitarian approach while others call for a Kantian approach Some, well, a bit of a mix and match What May has done is try to give a little form to this toolbox, without making it either unrealistic or too far toward the kind of moral relativism that basically results...

  5. Debhall says:

    It s readable, but I couldn t finish the book too much philosophy, even for me.

  6. Marlene says:

    I have to be honest that I didn t read this book cover to cover but skimmed it Many good thoughts leave the world a better place

  7. Chris says:

    This is a really good survey of contemporary philosophy and how it applies to contemporary life I am grateful for the exposure to the Ethics of Care school of thought.I found some of May s arguments weak Altruism is not solely the impetus for giving to an organization to feed the hungry The act is complicated because we must consider if our dollars go to the hungry, and not to simply supporting an overly bureaucratic aid organization Are our dollars misspent if there are people without the necessary food because of unaddressed political machinations or climate change Personally, I don t give to people begging on the street because A there is evidence in my community that some of the panhandling is part of a criminal drug prostitution ring, B The person begging may be using any money for drugs and refusing other available assistance, and C I worked with the homeless in the 1980s, saw President Reagan deregulate the housing markets and, doing so, create a permanent Homeless class of people in the United States, a...