Wolf and moral saints
I. GENERAL POINT & CONTEXT
“I don’t know that there are any moral saints. But if there are I am glad
that neither I nor those about whom I care most are among them”
Moral saint=A moral saint is someone who is as morally good as
possible; who emulates a kind of moral perfection.
Moral saints in ordinary thinking and in moral philosophy.
II. MORAL SAINTS AND COMMON SENSE
Two models of saintly motivation
The loving saint
“The happiness of the moral saint, then, would truly lie in the
happiness of others, and so he would devote himself gladly, and
with a whole and open heart” (Wolf 420).
The rational saint
“…this person sacrifices his own interests to the interests of
others, and feels the sacrifice as such” (420).
Would we want to be moral saints?
“In other words, if the moral saint is devoting all of his time to feeding
the hungry or healing the sick or raising money for Oxfam, then
necessarily he is not reading Victorian novels, playing the oboe, or
improving his backhand. Although no one of these activities could be
claimed to be a necessary element in a life well lived, a life in which
none of these possible aspects of character are developed may seem
be to be a life strangely barren” (Wolf 421).
The one-dimensional moral saint argument
(1) Non-moral interest in activity A is a good thing.
(2) Non-moral interest in A conflicts with full pursuit of morality
(C) So, a moral saint cannot participate in or promote non-moral
interest in A.
• Are such persons admirable?
“There seems to be a limit to how much morality we can stand.”
• Is striving for this kind of life/character rational?
“…the ideal of a life o