Coping with Moral Difference *

David B. Wong

in Natural Moralities

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780195305395
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786657 | DOI:
  Coping with Moral Difference  *

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This final chapter returns to practical problems arising from accepting a plurality of true or justified moralities: (1) problems about how to have confidence in one’s moral commitments while recognizing that different commitments are equally justified, and (2) problems about how to act toward others who have those different commitments and about how we might learn from others. Regarding (1), it is suggested, following Zhuangzi, that we can strive to make our moral commitments broader and more inclusive, trying to incorporate what we appreciate in others’ commitments. With regard to (2), approaches embodying the value of accommodation are advocated: accept that serious disagreement is a pervasive, inescapable fact of our moral lives, strive to maintain constructive relationship toward those with whom one disagrees, remain open to compromise, to joining forces with them on other issues, and to working on those parts of one’s moral projects that more likely to gain consensus. Particular issues such as abortion and substantial inequality in income and wealth, and the alleged divisiveness of multiculturalism are discussed. Finally, a conception of ritual derived from Confucianism is applied to the problem of how one might regard voting in elections as a means to promote the spirit of accommodation.

Keywords: abortion; accommodation; commitments; compromise; disagreement; inequality; multiculturalism; ritual; serious disagreement; voting

Chapter.  23630 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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