Common Morality and Moral Reform
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 2009; 30(1): 55-68
The idea of moral reform requires that morality be more than a description of what people do value, for there has to be some measure against which to assess progress. Otherwise, any change is not reform, but simply difference. Therefore, I discuss moral reform in relation to two prescriptive approaches to common morality, which I distinguish as the foundational and the pragmatic. A foundational approach to common morality (e.g., Bernard Gert's) suggests that there is no reform of morality, but of beliefs, values, customs, and practices so as to conform with an unchanging, foundational morality. If, however, there were revision in its foundation (e.g., in rationality), then reform in morality itself would be possible. On a pragmatic view, on the other hand, common morality is relative to human flourishing, and its justification consists in its effectiveness in promoting flourishing. Morality is dependent on what in fact does promote human flourishing and therefore, could be reformed. However, a pragmatic approach, which appears more open to the possibility of moral reform, would need a more robust account of norms by which reform is measured.
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Lindsay, Ronald A. (2005-12)Common morality theory must confront apparent counterexamples from the history of morality, such as the widespread acceptance of slavery in prior eras, that suggest core norms have changed over time. A recent defense of ...
The Teaching and Measurement of Moral Judgement Development Review of Can Morality Be Taught? Research Findings From Modern Moral Psychology (Ist Moral Lehrbar? Ergebnisse Der Modernen Moralpsychologischen Forschung), by Georg Lind; And Morality Can Be Taught. Theory and Practice of Moral and Democratic Education (Moral Ist Lehrbar. Handbuch Der Theorie Und Praxis De Moralischen Und Demokratischen Bildung), by Georg Lind Brugman, Daniel (2003-06)