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By Jonathan Jacobs

Dimensions of ethical idea examines the main presuppositions and philosophical commitments that help and form ethical theories.

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Extra resources for Dimensions of Moral Theory: An Introduction to Metaethics and Moral Psychology

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In developing those, we need to address crucial questions about the relation between self-interest and morality, the relation between pleasure and moral value, and the extent to which agents have (or lack) control over the moral worth of their actions. These are questions of moral psychology, and we turn to them in chapter 2. OBJECTIVITY AND SUBJECTIVITY 39 Questions for Discussion and Reflection 1 2 3 4 5 6 Explicate the differences between Kant’s account of the way in which moral value is objective and Mill’s conception of its objectivity.

For example, considerations of fairness might take precedence over considerations of utility, or certain rights might take priority over others. This, of course, would need to be shown in a carefully reasoned manner, since pluralism is decidedly not the same thing as making moral judgment arbitrary. Pluralism implies that there is no single measure or standard of value that will decide all conflicts of obligation or determine the weights of all the values at issue in a situation or a judgment. While that may appear to be a difficulty for pluralism, the approach may be motivated by the recognition that there are different kinds of value considerations, each with a claim to objectivity.

We judge what to do, what practices to accept, and which to discourage on the basis of what elicits our admiration, our gratitude, our esteem, our contempt, our fear, our distrust, and so forth. Moral judgments ultimately have a basis in the passions and in desires, in something felt. Also, they render the judgments practical by giving them motivating energy. It is feeling that moves us, even when it is feeling informed by factual knowledge and structured by reasoning. 28 Smith’s account of moral judgments differs in a number of ways from Hume’s but he agrees that sentiment is the basis of value.

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