Samuel Fleischacker

in Divine Teaching and the Way of the World

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199217366
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728495 | DOI:

Show Summary Details


Moral philosophers differ a great deal over how we should act, but this chapter maintains that those differences can be finessed if we allow moral reasoning to consist properly, as it consists in fact, of an eclectic grab-bag of different modes of argument, in which a concrete prescription is best defended if it can be given grounds from utilitarian, Kantian, intuitionist and other moral perspectives simultaneously. Indeed, it makes sense to suppose that a social contract on how to reason morally—an “overlapping consensus” on morality, to use a Rawlsian phrase—would endorse our arguing for moral claims in such an eclectic way: precisely so that we can avoid settling definitively the nature of our highest good, an issue of supreme importance to us but on which we differ irremediably. Such a social contract will necessarily finesse religious views of our higher good along with secular ones. Our moral prescriptions will therefore not depend on religious commitment.

Keywords: social contract; overlapping consensus; Rawls; Mill; eclecticism

Chapter.  15599 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.