Morality and moral theory: a reappraisal and reaffirmation

New York: Oxford University Press (1992)
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Abstract

Contemporary philosophers have grown increasingly skeptical toward both morality and moral theory. Some argue that moral theory is a radically misguided enterprise that does not illuminate moral practice, while others simply deny the value of morality in human life. In this important new book, Louden responds to the arguments of both "anti-morality" and "anti-theory" skeptics. In Part One, he develops and defends an alternative conception of morality, which, he argues, captures more of the central features of both Aristotelian and Kantian ethics than do other contemporary models, and enables the central importance of morality to be convincingly reaffirmed. In Louden's model, morality is primarily a matter of what one does to oneself, rather than what one does or does not do to others. This model eliminates the gulf that many anti-morality critics say exists between morality's demands and the personal point of view. Louden further argues that morality's primary focus should be on agents and their lives, rather than on right actions, and that it is always better to be morally better--i.e. it is impossible to be "too moral." Part Two presents Louden's alternative conception of moral theory. Here again he draws on the work of Aristotle and Kant, showing that their moral theories have far more in common than is usually thought, and that those features that they share can be the basis for a viable moral theory that is immune to the standard anti-theory objections. Louden reaffirms the necessity and importance of moral theory in human life, and shows that moral theories fulfill a variety of genuine and indispensable human needs.

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Robert Louden
University of Southern Maine

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