The Use and Abuse of Morality

Journal of Ethics 16 (1):1-13 (2012)
Both morality and theories of morality play many distinctive—and sometimes apparently conflicting—functions: they identify and prohibit wrongful aggression; they chart and analyze basic duties; they present ideals for emulation; they set the terms or justice, rights and entitlements; they characterize the norms of basic decency and neighborliness. Since many of these can, in practice, come into conflict with one another, morality provides guidance for integrating priorities. Claims to morality can, however, be misused as well as used: sanctimonious self-righteousness, self-centered moral narcisism and deflecting, misleading justification all present an abusive mask of morality. In this paper, I analyze both the use and abuse of morality and offer an account of its appropriate use, as presenting multiple heuristic questions for reflection
Keywords ethics  moral heuristics  pluralism  reflective equuilibrium
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DOI 10.1007/s10892-011-9116-0
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