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Title: The morality of groups
Author: Franklin, Donald Edwin
ISNI:       0000 0001 3482 7979
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2000
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The principle of the equality of human worth that underlies the political doctrine of impartiality, seems as pertinent to personal as to political morality. Yet we commonly not only tolerate but commend moral practices that are partial to family, friends and countryfolk. Definition of this problem focuses upon the demands of fairness and of the recognition of equality, against the value of personal projects and loyalties. I survey attempts by communitarians and by liberals to address the problem by isolating the realm of impartiality from that of personal morality, and conclude that such attempts are largely unsuccessful, as are efforts by consequentialists to subsume partial obligations under impartial rules. Rather, I argue that there is indeed independent value in community and in relationships, value in the flourishing of groups constituted by the connexions forged in acts of loyalty, but that these values are in irresolvable tension with the recognition of the equality of human worth. This tension should exercise us both in our personal lives (such that we must justify loyalty by the intrinsic values that it constitutes or to which it contributes), and in the design of political systems, wherein the equality of human worth is seen to represent but one defeasible moral consideration amongst many. The source of the false appeal of impartiality as a meta-ethical principle in political philosophy may lie with the plurality of visions of the good. Recognition of this plurality has generated both scepticism (with respect to "the good") and an implicit denigration of the values and ends that may conflict with impartiality ("the right"), including the values of community. I argue that that scepticism is not justified. I show that a realist interpretation for ethical judgments (using criteria for objectivity derived from the theory of meaning) is consistent with the heterogeneity of visions of the good, being anchored in the extent of continuing consensus in particular ethical judgments, (though this claim should, I suggest, be susceptible to an empirical research programme). Realism in ethics, thus established, not only belies the sceptical foundation of impartialism, it is also shown to underpin the obligations of individuals to large groups. And the epistemic dependence upon the group as the forum of the search for moral truth, itself constitutes much of the intrinsic value that justifies obligations of loyalty to the group.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available