These notes are for students in Dr. Scott Moore's PHI 1305.

Charles Taylor, The Ethics of Authenticity

Important Terms and Concepts--Chapter 9: An Iron Cage?



the affirmation of ordinary life -- Taylor affirms that within "ordinary life," one understands one's vocation as a vocatio, a calling. It is significant that this idea also has some of its roots in the thought of Max Weber. Thus, within Weberian thought, one can conceive both a diagnosis of one of the malaises of modernity (instrumental reason) and a plausible alternative to this dilemma (work as vocatio).

the rich moral background of instrumental reason -- As Francis Bacon noted, society must utilize the insights and effects of modern science in order "to relieve the condition of mankind." Often, technology is conceived in order to address some pressing problem with which humanity is struggling. Unfortunately, more often its goal is technological mastery. Taylor thinks that the rich moral background can be retrieved without giving in to the undesirable consequences.

an alternative enframing of technology -- a different way of looking at technology or of understanding the importance of technological advancement.

ethic of practical benevolence -- This is Taylor's "alternative enframing of technology." This ethic recognizes the significance of instrumental reason, but it does not assume a notion of human agency constituted by disengaged rationality.

notions of human agency -- conceptions of what it means to be a human "agent" or actor.


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