Salvation or Damnation, and where Ethics Fits in to all That


Ignazio Silone’s novel Bread and Wine explores the complex nature of ethical decision-making in the context of Fascist Italy, a world in which lofty concerns of moral conduct seem the fodder of fools and idealists. Silone uses his central character, firebrand and part-time philosopher Pietro Spina, to plunge his readers into one man’s quest for goodness within the debauchery and despair of war-torn Italy. Pietro’s moral development through the context of his adventures illustrates the challenge of crafting any sound ethical code, and the ease with which one might be lost to cynicism or indifference. The road marks of Pietro’s philosophical evolution are explored through comparisons with Iris Murdoch’s work on moral vision, Elizabeth Anderson’s non-ideal theory, and the three crusaders of Samantha Vice, Ryan Preston-Roedder, and Vanessa Carbonell in their campaign for faith in humanity over cynicism

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This paper was published in CommonKnowledge.

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