Rag-bags, Disputes and Moral Pluralism

Utilitas 11 (01):37- (1999)
Abstract
Moral pluralism of the kind associated with W. D. Ross is the doctrine that there is a plurality of moral principles, which in their application to particular cases can conflict, and that there is no further principle to determine which of these principles takes priority in cases of conflict. Two objections are commonly advanced against this kind of pluralism: that it proposes a rag-bag of moral principles lacking a unifying basis; and that it offers no way to adjudicate moral disputes when our intuitions about what to do conflict. The present paper replies to both of these objections, in particular by responding to versions of them advanced by Brad Hooker. The tying together and justification of different moral principles may be achieved by a general rational justification procedure, rather than by a further moral principle; and such a rational justification procedure can help to adjudicate moral disputes
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