David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Ethics 116 (4):742-768 (2006)
One of the perennial challenges of ethical theory has been to provide an answer to a number of views that appear to undermine the importance of ethical questions. We may refer to such views collectively as “deflationary ethical theories.” These include theories, such as nihilism, according to which no action is better than any other, as well as relativistic theories according to which no ethical theory is better than any other. In this article I present a new response to such deflationary ethical views. Drawing a distinction between acceptance and rejection, on the one hand, and belief and disbelief, on the other, I argue that we have strong reason to reject these theories, even if we do not have reason to disbelieve them. In Section I, I clarify the question of what ethical theory we should accept, and I argue for the central importance of this question. In Section II, I discuss what I call “absolutely deflationary” ethical theories. These are theories according to which it matters not at all what we do or not at all what ethical theory we accept. I argue that it is generally rational to reject any theory of this kind. In Section III, I discuss what I call “relatively deflationary” ethical theories. These are theories according to which it matters little what we do or what ethical theory we accept. I argue that we have strong pro tanto reason to reject theories of this kind. And then, in Sections IV and V, I reply to some common objections to my arguments. Throughout, I will be arguing not that deflationary ethical theories are false but only that we should reject them from the practical point of view as a basis for guiding our actions.
|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
Stephen Kearns (2013). Free Will Agnosticism. Noûs 47 (2):235-252.
Holly M. Smith (2010). Subjective Rightness. Social Philosophy and Policy 27 (2):64-110.
Andrew Sepielli (2013). Moral Uncertainty and the Principle of Equity Among Moral Theories1. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (3):580-589.
Andrew Sepielli (2012). Normative Uncertainty for Non-Cognitivists. Philosophical Studies 160 (2):191-207.
Johan E. Gustafsson & Olle Torpman (2014). In Defence of My Favourite Theory. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (2):159–174.
Similar books and articles
Timothy Chappell (2011). Glory as an Ethical Idea. Philosophical Investigations 34 (2):105-134.
Mark Colyvan, Damian Cox & Katie Steele (2010). Modelling the Moral Dimension of Decisions. Noûs 44 (3):503-529.
Pekka Väyrynen (2006). Ethical Theories and Moral Guidance. Utilitas 18 (3):291-309.
Andrew Moore (2007). Ethical Theory, Completeness & Consistency. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (3):297 - 308.
James R. Beebe (2006). Reliabilism and Deflationism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (4):495 – 510.
David Copp (ed.) (2006). The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory. Oxford University Press.
Patricia Marino (2005). Expressivism, Deflationism and Correspondence. Journal of Moral Philosophy 2 (2):171-191.
Saral Jhingran (2001). Ethical Relativism and Universalism. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.
Joel Martinez (2011). Is Virtue Ethics Self-Effacing? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (2):277-288.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads103 ( #23,552 of 1,724,745 )
Recent downloads (6 months)66 ( #15,400 of 1,724,745 )
How can I increase my downloads?