Between Universalism and Skepticism: Ethics as Social by Michael Philips

By Michael Philips

Philips defends a center flooring among the view that there's a set of criteria binding on rational beings as such (universalism) and the view that transformations in morals decrease eventually to issues of flavor (skepticism). He starts with a sustained critique of universalist ethical theories and a few conventional techniques to concrete ethical questions that presuppose them (most appeals to intuitions, recognize for person's moralities, and types of contractarianism and broad reflective equilibrium). He is going directly to criticize significant fresh makes an attempt to advance nonuniversalist possible choices to skepticism, arguing that they depend upon excessively summary and philosophically indefensible choice pride theories of the great. in line with Philips's optimistic replacement, ethical criteria are justified to the level that they help quite valued methods of existence. He devotes significant realization to clarifying this concept and attracts conclusions from it in regards to the position and bounds of cause in ethics. Philips's concept offers us with a theoretical foundation for facing real ethical controversies and for forthcoming questions of utilized ethics in a scientific manner.

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The ultimate principles proposed by the present argument are supposed to explain why different standards are justified for different possible worlds (and actual societies). Accordingly, they must themselves hold for every possible world, that is, given any set of facts. It is hard to imagine what such principles could be. ) In any case, we don't need such principles. Moral standards at every level can be justified by background beliefs in conjunction with a moral epistemology. Given different sets of background beliefs, any given moral epistemology will generate different standards.

None of this seemed to violate the intuitions of the offenders on a wide scale. Some of these intuitions were no doubt grounded on false background theories, but it is not clear that all of them were. Indians who tortured or enslaved captives did not always think their captives were less human than themselves, and Greeks didn't think this way about other Greeks. Slaughter and enslavement were simply permitted by the rules of war: everyone was equally vulnerable. In many cultures, torture of captives was "justified" on the ground that it avenged an outrage committed by someone in the captive's group.

In fact, as I will argue at some length in chapter 6, there are sufficient differences between domains within a given society that different standards are justified for different domains. Conditions for inmates in maximum security prisons are such that standards governing truth telling, promise keeping, and justice are rightly less stringent than those appropriate to communities of Franciscan monks. Revealing certain kinds of information can be highly dangerous in the first case, and there is little probability of reciprocity.

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