The Moral Vision of Iris Murdoch
Iris Murdoch's moral philosophy, although highly influential in 20th century moral theory, is somewhat unsystematic and inaccessible. In this work Widdows outlines the moral vision of Iris Murdoch in its entirety and draws out the implications of her thought for the contemporary ethical debate, discussing such aspects of Murdoch's work as the influence of Plato on her conception of The Good, the reality of the human moral experience, the attainment of knowledge of moral values and how art and religion inform the living of the moral life. Examining all of Murdoch's contributions to moral philosophy from her short papers to Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals, Heather Widdows provides an accessible and systematised account of Murdoch's moral concepts and offers a clear and critical exposition of her thought. By clarifying Murdoch's central themes, core ideas and her picture of the moral life, this book enables her work to be more easily understood and so utilised in current debates.
'In her book The Moral Vision of Iris Murdoch, Heather Widdows goes beyond providing a mere outline of Murdoch's moral philosophy; she gives an excellent presentation of it... Widdows’s suggestion that Murdoch is better described as a moral visionary rather than as a strict moral philosopher makes perfect sense’ Sonja Zuba, K.U. Leuven, Ethical Perspectives ’...Widdows is largely successful in her attempt to give a systematic account of Murdoch's views, set in their historical and philosophical context, and this is no mean achievement.’ Heythrop Journal ’Widdows has an excellent grasp of Murdoch's understanding of the moral life... Widdows lucidly lays out Murdoch's philosophical thought and suggests that she may have been a moral visionary.’ Christianity and Literature ’Widdows says that the ’broadening’ of ethics in recent decades ’is in part a result of Murdoch’s own contribution’ (p.165). This is surely true...certainly, Murdoch’s philosophical work has struck deep chords with many, including me. It is pleasing to see that work still being pondered and appreciated... Widdows’ discussions of the place of art, and of religion, in Murdoch’s vision are among the most stimulating chapters of her book. Widdows sets out well Murdoch’s ambiguous attitude towards art - her view of art’s power to deceive, dazzle, and mislead as well as of the power of some art to illuminate things for us.’ Sophia ’Heather Widdows has produced an excellent guide to Iris Murdoch’s ethical thought which provides a clear and accessible account of Murdoch’s moral concepts and the issues arising from them... her explication of Murdoch’s philosophy is consistently subtle and well-contextualised. ... Widdows’s approach is well judged and her desire to present Murdoch’s views in an ordered and clarified way does not collapse into an effort to explain away ambiguities’ Studies in Christian Ethics