The Moral of the Story is a college textbook focusing on moral philosophy, discussing classical and contemporary ethical theories, and illustrating them through summaries and excerpts of stories selected from the world of fiction. This article is the author’s reflection on conceiving and writing the textbook, as well as providing updated, revised editions over a quarter of a century. Through eight editions, The Moral of the Story has reflected the changing times from the early 1990s through the first two decades of the twenty-first century, primarily in the United States, with shifting moral debates, new modes of storytelling, and new generations of students. Each edition has become a commentary on some of those changes, with new narratives illustrating classical moral problems. The author, seeking common ground in moral philosophy through the theory of soft universalism, raises the question whether or not there is still common ground in fictional narratives among students of today to facilitate the comprehension of ethical theories. The author suggests that while mores may change, and forms of storytelling expand beyond the written word, storytelling is part of our human nature, and stories will still provide a valuable access to discussing problems and solutions within our complex world of ethics and ethical theories, in particular in a college environment.
Thank you, Jim Bull, for your faith in the vision of a young Philosophy instructor, and thank you to the McGraw-Hill editors of the fourth through the ninth edition in production for allowing me to remain loyal to that same vision.
Thank you to the many scholars whom I have met through my book, and who have become friends as well as invaluable sources of comments and suggestions; in particular I want to express my gratitude to Harold Weiss, Northampton University; Michael Schwartz, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology; and the late Stephen George, Brigham Young University.
I would like to also thank my advisor at the University of Copenhagen, Department of Philosophy back in the 1970s, Peter Kemp, for having faith in my future as a philosopher at a time where women students in Philosophy were hardly ever acknowledged, and barely tolerated. He offered me my first chances at writing pieces in Philosophy journals and other publications, encouraging me to write, and to write boldly. Sadly, Peter Kemp passed away in 2018.
Thanks to all my department chairs over 25 years who have supported and celebrated my periodic immersions into the world of researching and writing new editions of The Moral of the Story. As writers and their families know, those intense times of writing border on a certain kind of creative madness.
So of course I also want to thank the person who has been most affected by those periodic immersions, my husband Craig R. Covner, who has seen me through those 25 years of writing – while teaching 5 classes at the same time, every semester – with love, patience, support, and a sanity-preserving sense of humor.
Rosenstand, N. (2019), "25 Years with
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