Intractable conflicts and moral objectivity: A dialogical, problem-based approach

Inquiry 42 (2):229 – 257 (1999)
Abstract
According to the standard version of discourse ethics (e.g. as formulated by Apel, Habermas, and others), the objectivity of moral norms resides in their intersubjective acceptability under idealized conditions of discourse. These accounts have been criticized for not taking sufficient account of contextual particularities and the realities of actual discourse. This essay addresses such objections by proposing a more realistic, contextualist 'principle of real moral discourse' (RMD). RMD is derived from a more comprehensive concept of objectivity that links intersubjective objectivity with a factual objectivity based in features of social conflicts and the moral problems they pose. To clarify RMD and make this approach more plausible, a number of theoretical and practical questions are addressed concerning the notions of reasonability and inclusivity entailed by RMD.
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