Moral modesty, moral judgment and moral advice. A Wittgensteinian approach

International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 75 (1):20-37 (2014)
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Abstract

Moral philosophy has traditionally aimed for correct or appropriate moral judgments. Consequently, when asked for moral advice, the moral philosopher first tries to develop a moral judgment and then informs the advisee. The focus is on what the advisee should do, not on whether any advice should be given. There may, however, be various kinds of reasons not to morally judge, to be ‘morally modest’. In the first part of this article, I give some reasons to be morally modest when moral advice is asked for. Second, I show how Wittgenstein radicalizes these reasons to such an extent that the very possibility of giving moral advice seems threatened. Third, I argue that taking Wittgenstein and the need for moral modesty seriously does not make moral advice impossible, but rather asks for a notion of moral advice in which moral advice is not necessarily linked to the ideal of a moral judgment. Fourth, I highlight some advantages of a Wittgensteinian notion of moral advice over traditional notions.

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