ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Samiksha GoyalSubscribe to Samiksha Goyal

Gandhi’s Moral Agents

A conception of moral agency is needed to anchor the moral concepts invoked by M K Gandhi. Akeel Bilgrami’s work on Gandhi introduces two notions of moral agency: the moral exemplar and the unalienated individual. These concepts do not satisfy Gandhi’s idea of moral agency. First, the idea of moral exemplar relates insufficiently to Gandhi’s notion of moral truth that guides the moral exemplar. Second, the idea of an unalienated individual is underspecified as a Gandhian response to the problem of alienation. In contrast, Gandhi’s detached moral agent is guided by moral truth to both act as an exemplar and overcome alienation.

Gandhi and Saintliness

An integrated reading of Gandhi’s ideas, images, personal life, and political activities, at times inflicts considerable damage to the understanding of his thoughts. George Orwell’s (1949–2000) view of Gandhi as a moral saint and his ideas as “anti-humanistic” is a striking example. Adopting Orwell’s image, the philosopher Susan Wolf (1982), in an influential paper, questioned the very idea of moral saints. His saintly image is an important reason why there is little mention of Gandhi in academic moral philosophy. By showing that the image does not apply to his thoughts, we rescue Gandhi’s moral concepts from the perceived image of a saint.
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