Pluralism, the ethical matrix, and coming to conclusions

The ethical matrix approach was developed by Prof Ben Mepham and his colleagues at the University of Nottingham in the early 1990s. Since then the approach has received increasing attention and has been used by several researchers in different projects related to assessing ethical impacts of different food production technologies and other policy options of societal concern. The ethical matrix is sometimes understood simply as a checklist of ethical concerns, but might also be seen as a guide to coming to conclusions on moral questions. The problem I discuss in this paper relates to how using the ethical matrix method as a decision guide can be combined with respecting pluralism. The aim of the paper is to suggest a framework making it possible to – at the same time – enhance public justification of judgments and respect pluralism. I argue that pluralism is fundamental to the ethical matrix approach; I distinguish between intuitionist principled pluralism and societal value pluralism; and I show how both kinds of pluralism imply restrictions on how conclusions can be made. No substantive moral decision principles can be allowed. Still, I argue, decision principles of a more epistemological or procedural character can be acceptable even within pluralism. The pragmatist principle of inquiry is defended as an account of moral problem solving compatible with both principled pluralism and value pluralism. When an ethical matrix is used within such a participatory inquiry process substantive conclusions can be drawn
Keywords Ethical matrix  intuitionism  pluralism  pragmatism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10806-007-9050-0
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,470
External links
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

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Ellen-Marie Forsberg (2007). Pluralism, the Ethical Matrix, and Coming to Conclusions. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 20 (5):455-468.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

18 ( #255,392 of 1,925,553 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #418,152 of 1,925,553 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.