Chapter

Relativistic Ethics: Morality as Politics

Gilbert Harman

in Explaining Value

Published in print August 2000 | ISBN: 9780198238041
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597626 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198238045.003.0003
 Relativistic Ethics: Morality as Politics

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A ‘naive view’ of morality says it is based on certain moral demands that everyone accepts, or at least has reasons to accept as demands on everyone, and on which all moral reasons depend. The naive view must be rejected because there are no substantive moral demands satisfying those conditions. Moral conventionalism or ‘morality as politics’ is the best replacement for the naive view. Other conceptions of morality retain less of the content of the naive view and tend toward unrealistic accounts of what morality requires. Extremely agent‐centred theories, as in certain forms of existentialism, practically abandon morality as a social enterprise, as do extremely critic‐centred theories, like certain forms of emotivism and Hare's theory, which are best seen as rejecting the moral ought in favour of the ought of evaluation.

Keywords: emotivism; existentialism; R.M. Hare; moral agent; moral conventionalism; relativism

Chapter.  8135 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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