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Between Universalism and Skepticism : Ethics as Social Artifact - Michael Philips

Between Universalism and Skepticism

Ethics as Social Artifact

Hardcover

Published: 17th February 1994
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Philips defends a middle ground between the view that there is a set of standards binding on rational beings as such (universalism) and the view that differences in morals reduce ultimately to matters of taste (skepticism). He begins with a sustained critique of universalist moral theories and of certain familiar approaches to concrete moral questions that presuppose them (most appeals to intuitions, respect-for-persons moralities, and versions of contractarianism and wide reflective equilibrium). He goes on to criticize major recent attempts to develop nonuniversalist alternatives to skepticism, arguing that they rely on excessively abstract and philosophically indefensible preference satisfaction theories of the good.
According to Philips's positive alternative, ethics as social artifact, moral codes are social instruments and they are justified to the extent that they effectively do their jobs, which is to promote reasonably valued ways of life. Accordingly, he argues that different standards may be justified for different societies, depending on their circumstances, traditions, and current institutions. His account of a reasonably valued way of life depends on a "falsifiability" approach to reasonable values according to which existing values are treated as reasonable unless good arguments can be made against them. He describes many strategies for making such arguments, the upshot being an approach to the justification of moral standards that is sufficiently "grounded" to settle many controversies and to mark off areas in which rational persons are free to disagree. It also explains why the weight of a moral consideration may vary reasonably from one "domain" of social life to another.
An original approach to the uses and limits of reason in ethics, Between Universalism and Skepticism provides a theoretical basis for approaching actual moral controversies and questions of applied and professional ethics in a systematic way.

"The book is clearly written, and the arguments are presented in a straightforward manner. There is something here for everyone at the college and university level."--Choice "An intelligent and carefully argued book that deserves the attention of theologians and religious ethicists, as well as moral philosophers."--Religious Studies Review "A balanced and thought-provoking book. the clarity and depth of the exposition and argument are impressive; it is well worth reading, especiallu by those who, like myself, are not likely convinced."--Ethics "The book is clearly written, and the arguments are presented in a straightforward manner. There is something here for everyone at the college and university level."--Choice "An intelligent and carefully argued book that deserves the attention of theologians and religious ethicists, as well as moral philosophers."--Religious Studies Review "A balanced and thought-provoking book. the clarity and depth of the exposition and argument are impressive; it is well worth reading, especiallu by those who, like myself, are not likely convinced."--Ethics

Introductionp. 3
Intuitionism and Wide Reflective Equilibriump. 20
Reasons, Persons, and Contractsp. 46
The Formal Conception of the Goodp. 68
Ethics as Social Artifactp. 89
Evaluating Standardsp. 128
Goods and Evilsp. 152
Ethics and Agentsp. 182
Indexp. 202
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195086461
ISBN-10: 0195086465
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 222
Published: 17th February 1994
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.2 x 16.3  x 2.2
Weight (kg): 0.54