The Moral Theory of Poststructuralism

By (author) Todd May

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 September 1995

Length of book:

164 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271025858

Both Anglo-American and Continental thinkers have long denied that there can be a coherent moral defense of the poststructuralist politics of Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Jean-François Lyotard. For many Anglo-American thinkers, as well as for Critical Theorists such as Habermas, poststructuralism is not coherent enough to defend morally. Alternatively, for Foucault, Deleuze, Lyotard, and their followers, the practice of moral theorizing is passé at best and more likely insidious.

Todd May argues both that a moral defense of poststructuralism is necessary and that it is possible. First, he develops a metaethical view of moral theorizing that treats it as a social practice rather than a transcendentally derived guarantee for right action. He then articulates and defends antirepresentationalism, a principle central to poststructuralism. Finally, May offers a version of consequentialism that is consonant both with the principle of antirepresentationalism and with other poststructuralist commitments. In conclusion, he distinguishes morality from an aesthetics of living and shows the role the latter plays for those who embrace antirepresentationalism.

“This is an extremely worthwhile book—a real bridge builder—executed by one of the few philosophers in the world able to speak eloquently in the language of Anglo-American and Continental philosophy.”

—Owen Flanagan, Duke University