Applied Ethics: What is Applied to What?

Utilitas 12 (2):119 (2000)
This paper criticizes the conception of applied ethics as the top-down application of a theory to practical issues. It is argued that a theory such as utilitarianism cannot override our intuitive moral perceptions. We cannot be radically mistaken about the kinds of considerations which count as practical reasons, and it is the task of theoretical ethics to articulate the basic kinds of considerations which we appeal to in practical discussions. Dworkin's model of doing ethics is used to illustrate the appropriate role for theory in a broader sense. In conclusion, some sceptical questions are raised about how far theoretical ethics can contribute to public policy, especially if this requires a consensus
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DOI 10.1017/S0953820800002740
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David Archard (2012). Moral Compromise. Philosophy 87 (03):403-420.

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