How do you cope in a dying world? I find it so hard to find a balance, I’m trying to make my life more sustainable, etc etc, but the knowledge that it’s large, systematic, company + government led change that will actually make a difference makes most of my friends say ‘what’s the point?’ What do I do with my guilt that I didn’t go on any of the marches because I had a broken leg and anyway I work with children. I feel like I’m just making excuses? Love, Flora

Philosopher's reply

Dear Flora,

Perhaps conceiving of morality as something determined primarily by the character or virtue of the agent is helpful. Instead of measuring the moral worth of an action by the outcome, we can assess it by the virtue exhibited in it being performed. Concern over change and sustainability suggests you’re a virtuous person, despite failing (in your assessment) to enact meaningful or impactful change. Also, maybe the small acts you describe are important. Jonathan Glover argues this in “It makes no difference whether or not I do it”.


Philosopher's profile

Christopher A. Riddle

Utica College, USA

Iris Murdoch’s "The Sovereignty of Good" demonstrates the importance of one’s inner life for matters of ethics. Her notion of the good life contrasts many dominant views of morality in important and powerful ways that have influenced how we view not only what we owe to each other, but perhaps more importantly, what we owe to ourselves. Her expanded notion of virtue permeates, in my mind, any accurate world-view concerning what matters in the world, and what constitutes a flourishing life.

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