Ethical pluralism and the appeal to human nature

European Journal of Philosophy 26 (3):1103-1119 (2018)
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Ethical pluralists hold that moral values and systems are irreducibly diverse and incommensurable according to a common scale. One criticism of the view is that accepting such incommensurability renders them unable to criticize values, practices, institutions, and so forth that are genuinely bad. This paper considers two ways that pluralists have appealed to human nature to answer this criticism. One way appeals to nature to ground a positive conception of human flourishing, whereas the other appeals to nature as a source of constraints. I argue that both views fail to meet the criticism in a satisfactory way and then advance a view that improves upon the existing options. Specifically, I argue that human nature is the standard by which it is possible to assess humaneness, which is a kind of beauty that represents the elevation or refinement of human nature. Accordingly, pluralists can deploy judgments of humaneness to criticize practices, institutions, and so forth that are not worth tolerating without violating the spirit of pluralism.



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Irene Liu
Le Moyne College

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References found in this work

Critique of Judgment.Immanuel Kant & Werner S. Pluhar - 1987 - Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett Publishing.
Non‐Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach.Martha C. Nussbaum - 1988 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 13 (1):32-53.
Morality and conflict.Stuart Hampshire, Sabina Lovibond & Robin Attfield - 1985 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 175 (1):90-92.

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