Purity and Humanity

Samuel Scheffler

in Human Morality

Published in print January 1994 | ISBN: 9780195085648
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833634 | DOI:
Purity and Humanity

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Turning to the question of morality's content, Scheffler undertakes a defense of the view that morality is moderate – that it makes demands and imposes constraints but still allows people, under favorable circumstances, to do as they please within broad limits. Those who oppose this view and see morality as stringent are, according to Scheffler, attributing a kind of purity to the moral point of view, and so he presents the contrast between the stringent and moderate views as a contrast between an Ideal of Purity and an Ideal of Humanity. Scheffler considers and rejects two argumentative strategies that are frequently used in defense of the Ideal of Purity, one that derives stringency from an allegedly uncontroversial property of morality, such as universality or impartiality and another that derives it from ordinary moral language and ordinary moral concepts. Scheffler suggests that, because the claims of stringency and moderation each have a place in our moral consciousness, neither claim can be adequately defended by appealing either to formal properties of morality or to facts about ordinary usage.

Keywords: humanity; Ideal of Humanity; Ideal of Purity; impartiality; moderation; morality; purity; stringency; universality

Chapter.  7257 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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