The Religion & Culture Web Forum
Improvisation And Ethics:
Improvising Music, Improvising Ethics
Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago
The concept of moral improvisation has received the attention of a number of ethicists and scholars. In the October edition of the Web Forum, Daniel Groll draws on his musical and philosophical training to explore what exactly “moral improvisation” means by comparing it with jazz, a musical genre in which improvisation is a well-established practice:
There are many ways to improvise well in a given situation and there is no incompatibility between different good improvisations; in the very least, there is no obvious sense in which they “contradict” each other. Moreover, there is a certain intrinsic value in this kind of pluralism—it is not something we want to get rid of, at least in the musical case. In short, there is, in fact, no convergence in “style” and this is not something we want anyway…[and yet] it is not up to the individual improviser to judge whether a particular improvisation is good. There are certain ways of going on that simply get it wrong. This kind of constraint is at least compatible with thinking that there are facts of the matter that dictate, on their own, a certain kind of response.