David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophical Topics 38 (1):159-180 (2010)
Slavery seems to us to be a paradigm of a morally wrong institutionalized practice. And yet for most of its millennia-long historical existence it was typically accepted as a natural, necessary, and inevitable feature of the social world. This widespread normative consensus was only challenged toward the end of the eighteenth century. Then, within a hundred years of the emergence of radical moral criticism of slavery, the existing practices had been dismantled and the institution itself “abolished.” How do we explain such a “profound transformation in moral perception” (Davis 1975)? It may seem obvious that the moral agency and character of the leaders and activists of the abolition movement, their supporters, and their governmental representatives were the primary motors of change.That is to say, the various actors involved came to see, recognize, or acknowledge the true (morally evil) nature of slavery and were thereby motivated to act against it. This “commonsense,” “moral explanation” is endorsed by most of the philosophers who have reflected on the morality of slavery. But despite the intuitiveness of thinking that it was the moral agency of the actors, pitted against the evil and injustice of slavery, that brought about the latter’s downfall, I will endeavor to show that such thinking is inadequate both to the facts and to the explanatory desiderata. I contend that it was not ignor ance of the supposedly inherent moral status of slavery that maintained people’s complicity with it, but practical barriers to them conceiving it dispensable
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Ari R. Joffe, Meredith Bara, Natalie Anton & Nathan Nobis (2014). The Ethics of Animal Research: A Survey of Pediatric Health Care Workers. Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 9 (1):20.
Similar books and articles
Ariela J. Gross, When is the Time of Slavery? The History and Politics of Slavery in Contemporary Legal Argument.
Simon Roberts-Thomson (2008). An Explanation of the Injustice of Slavery. Res Publica 14 (2):69-82.
Neil Sinclair (2013). Moral Explanations. In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Blackwell
Wylie Sypher (1939). Hutcheson and the "Classical" Theory of Slavery. Journal of Negro History 24 (3):263-280.
Ari Helo & Peter Onuf (2003). Jefferson, Morality, and the Problem of Slavery. The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series 60 (3):583-614.
David Forman (2012). Kant on Moral Freedom and Moral Slavery. Kantian Review 17 (1):1-32.
Ronald A. Lindsay (2005). Slaves, Embryos, and Nonhuman Animals: Moral Status and the Limitations of Common Morality Theory. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 15 (4):323-346.
Maurice S. Lee (2005). Slavery, Philosophy, and American Literature, 1830-1860. Cambridge University Press.
Brad Thompson (2006). Moral Value, Response-Dependence, and Rigid Designation. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (1):71-94.
Brady Thomas Heiner (2007). “From the Prison of Slavery to the Slavery of Prison”: Angela Y. Davis’s Abolition Democracy. Radical Philosophy Today 5:219-227.
Christian Coons (2011). How to Prove That Some Acts Are Wrong (Without Using Substantive Moral Premises). Philosophical Studies 155 (1):83–98.
Brady Thomas Heiner (2007). “From the Prison of Slavery to the Slavery of Prison”. Radical Philosophy Today 2007:219-227.
Irene McMullin (2013). Kant on Radical Evil and the Origin of Moral Responsibility. Kantian Review 18 (1):49-72.
Jane Duran (2010). Slavery in Global Context. International Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (1):61-69.
Robert P. Lovering (2004). Mary Anne Warren on “Full” Moral Status. Southern Journal of Philosophy 42 (4):509-530.
Added to index2012-09-18
Total downloads14 ( #184,535 of 1,726,249 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #183,615 of 1,726,249 )
How can I increase my downloads?