This article examines Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men. Rather than seeing McCarthy's novel as a paean to a lost conservatism, I offer a subtler philosophical reading. Utilizing Jacques Derrida's account of ethics and responsibility, I show that McCarthy offers a very rich account of ethical deliberation. On the surface, the novel presents a putative conservative ethics, where Sheriff Bell laments the current state of social laws and yearns for the simplicity of natural justice. Chigurh represents the logical conclusion of natural law, where morals are consistent with the natural, predictable, and mechanical laws of nature. The moral fulcrum of the novel dwells in the deepening wisdom of Bell in the face of Chigurh's mechanization and naturalization of ethics. McCarthy's philosophical and ethical insight in No Country for Old Men emerges from showing how the central protagonist Sheriff Bell struggles to exist beyond the good and evil he faces in the guise of the psychopath Chigurh's relentless rationalism. I conclude that McCarthy philosophically demonstrates the density and flawed nature of ethical decision-making, one that requires civil disobedience at the heart of the law.

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