Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
Language is made up of physical existences; sound, or marks on paper.…But these do not operate or function as mere physical things when they are media of communication. They operate in virtue of the representative capacity or meaning.…The convention or common consent which sets [language] apart as a means of recording and communicating meaning is that of agreement in action; of shared modes of responsive behavior and participation in their consequences.John Dewey
With each succeeding chapter, I have added one tool or insight after another. In Chapter 2, we developed an understanding of the radically empirical attitude that takes all and only experience seriously. This led to an understanding that selves are social products best understood, not as isolated beings, but in light of their rich, ongoing life stories. In Chapter 3, we took these insights and moved to a pragmatic understanding of obligations that arise from taking all interests seriously, eventuating in the urging to “invent some manner of satisfying” as many demands as possible. The result of such intelligent invention (or inquiry) is what we called a moral obligation. Chapter 4 focused on patients with decisional capacity at the end of life, and placed an emphasis on making decisions that help the patient author her life story while she is dying, recognizing that for some few individuals this might mean that others are morally obligated to help them die.