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Title: An audience for moral philosophy?
Author: Edelman, J. T.
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1981
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The essay is divided into three parts. Part One is a criticism of a tradition of accounts of morality in which moral practices are explained or justified as the means to social stability and cooperation and, hence, to the satisfaction of individuals' needs, interests and desires. It is argued that Glaucon's 'popular account' of justice in Book II of Plato's Republic, Hobbes' Leviathan, and John Rawis' recent A Theory of Justice are instances of this kind of account. These are said to issue in the 'politicalization of morality', the reduction of morality to matters of political necessity. It is argued that this is indeed a reduction, and that where 'the good' is thus identified with 'the necessary', proper moral values cannot be articulated. The politicalization of morality, it is argued, is the elimination of morality. Part Two addresses questions raised by Part One, questions about the nature of philosophical criticism. Criticism of a purported account or theory of morality as a misrepresentation of moral practices or as the elimination of morality, appears to presume that a common understanding of morality is shared by both critic and theorist, that is to say, that both, as it were, recognize a common object that is to be described. In Part Two, the possibility of an absence of such a common understanding is explored as a question about the possible complexities of any audience for moral philosophy, and so as a question of what the philosopher can be doing when he offers or criticizes a particular account of 'morality'. In brief, an attempt is made to throw light on the nature of moral philosophy, with special reference to Part One of this essay, by considering the nature of language, questions of what it is to learn and to speak a language. The important possibility here is the possibility of an absence of anything that might be spoken of as a 'common moral language' among human beings. An understanding of moral differences is at the heart of Part Two, and various attempts to resolve such differencesare the subject of Part Three. The role of moral philosophy in the resolution of moral differences and, more broadly, the conditions for the possibility of moral agreement among men are discussed. Finally, consideration is given to various attempts to adjudicate social and moral conflicts by reference to the concept of 'the common good'. It is argued that in an important sense there is no such 'common' good, and that the appeal to 'the common good' is therefore of quite limited use in the adjudication of conflict.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available