Crary, Alice 1967- (Alice Marguerite Crary)

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Crary, Alice 1967- (Alice Marguerite Crary)


Born September 16, 1967. Education: Harvard College, A.B. (summa cum laude), 1990; University of Pittsburgh, Ph.D., 1999.


Office—The New School, Graduate Faculty and Lang College, 65 5th Ave., New York, NY 10003. E-mail—[email protected].


New School for Social Research, New York, NY, assistant professor, 2000-06, associate professor of philosophy, 2006—. Taught world history and philosophy at Colegio Americano de Quito (a high school), Quito, Ecuador, 1990-91; worked as counselor and advocate at Greater Pittsburgh Women's Center and Shelter, 1992-93 and 1994-98.


Phi Beta Kappa.


Bechtel Prize, Harvard University, 1990, for best undergraduate essay in philosophy; Mellon fellowship in the humanities, University of Pittsburgh, 1991-92; Alan Ross Anderson fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, 1993; Harvard University certificate of distinction in teaching, 1993-94; University of Pittsburgh teaching fellowships, 1992, 1994-97; Charlotte W. Newcombe doctoral dissertation fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, 1997-1998; Laurance S. Rockefeller visiting fellow, University Center for Human Values, Princeton University, 2003-04; faculty fellow, Hayman Center for the Humanities, Columbia University, 2004-05; university distinguished teaching award, the New School, New York, 2005.


(Editor, with Rupert Read) The New Wittgenstein, Routledge (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor, with Sanford Shieh) Reading Cavell, Routledge (New York, NY), 2006.

(Editor) Wittgenstein and the Moral Life: Essays in Honor of Cora Diamond, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2007.

Beyond Moral Judgment, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2007.


In Beyond Moral Judgment, philosopher Alice Crary questions the traditional ways in which moral thought and action are viewed. She explains that we habitually think of moral thought as something that is expressed only in speech that refers directly to moral concepts—such as "good," "selfish," or "courageous." But such thinking, in her view, leads to an imperfect understanding of the process of moral thought. Crary argues that moral thinking can be expressed in any kind of speech, whether it refers directly to moral concepts or not. As Duncan Richter summarized in a review of the book in Metapsychology Online Reviews, Crary sees ethics as "a dimension of all discourse, not a particular area of discourse in itself." Referring in Beyond Moral Judgment to the work of such philosophers as John McDowell, Cora Diamond, Stanley Cavell, and Iris Murdoch, Crary also devotes a section of the book to the work of various literary writers, including Jane Austen, E.M. Forster, Henry James, Theodor Fontane, and Leo Tolstoy. Crary's readings of these authors, in Richter's view, are "subtle and insightful, and show that dominant philosophical ideas about what moral thinking means are incompatible with an adequate response to sophisticated examples of moral thought. Bad moral thinking," Richter went on to explain, "is not simply a matter, for instance, of making bad judgments. It also involves blindness, lack of imagination, insensitivity, deafness to irony, and so on." Crary's arguments, Richter concluded, are powerful and exciting, and are likely to stimulate significant debate.

Calling Beyond Moral Judgment "stimulating and worthwhile," Simon Kirchin, writing in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, observed that the implications of Crary's argument are important because "she thinks that it is misguided for an individual to understand his or her moral world in terms that are narrowly moral … [because] it might well mean that he or she fails to grow and is not open to changes that can occur when contact is made with others who think and feel differently." Though Kirchin expressed frustration with what he described as a "criss-crossing of concepts" in the book, he added that this "failure to distinguish moral from non-moral concepts" enhances Crary's point, "since all of these concepts are important parts of our moral lives." Observing, nevertheless, that the book would benefit from greater clarity, Kirchin concluded: "Reading Crary's book has forced me to think a little more deeply about moral and non-moral concepts, and that is surely a good thing."

Crary has also edited Wittgenstein and the Moral Life: Essays in Honor of Cora Diamond, and coedited The New Wittgenstein and Reading Cavell.



Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, December 1, 2000, C.G. Luckhardt, review of The New Wittgenstein, p. 721; October 1, 2007, J. Churchill, review of Beyond Moral Judgment.

Journal of the History of Philosophy, July 1, 2001, Anton Alterman, review of The New Wittgenstein, p. 456.

Mind, January 1, 2005, Denis McManus, review of The New Wittgenstein, pp. 129-137.

Philosophy, July 1, 2003, Lars Hertzberg, review of The New Wittgenstein, pp. 425-430.

Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2001, review of The New Wittgenstein, p. 5.

Times Literary Supplement, May 11, 2001, William Child, review of The New Wittgenstein, p. 31.


Metapsychology Online Reviews, (May 22, 2007), Duncan Richter, review of Beyond Moral Judgment.

New School for Social Research Web site, (December 5, 2007), Alice Crary faculty profile.

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews,http://ndpr.nd/edu/ (January 22, 2008), Dale Jacquette, review of Wittgenstein and the Moral Life: Essays in Honor of Cora Diamond; Simon Kirchin, review of Beyond Moral Judgment.