Moral Theory and Anomaly

Overview

Moral Theory and Anomaly considers and rejects the claim that moral theory is too Utopian to apply properly to worldly pursuits like political office-holding and business, and too patriarchal and speciesist to generate a theory of justice applicable to women and the non-human natural world.

The idea that there are radical failures of application of moral theory - anomalies - might be taken to complement a very general scepticism about moral theory expressed recently by several ...

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Overview

Moral Theory and Anomaly considers and rejects the claim that moral theory is too Utopian to apply properly to worldly pursuits like political office-holding and business, and too patriarchal and speciesist to generate a theory of justice applicable to women and the non-human natural world.

The idea that there are radical failures of application of moral theory - anomalies - might be taken to complement a very general scepticism about moral theory expressed recently by several philosophers including Bernard Williams, Annette Baier and Richard Rorty. This book brings together moral theory and applied ethics in an unusual way, and, while it is anti-sceptical, it does concede that there is likely to be only slow progress from the current state of conflict between mainstream utilitarian, Kantian and virtue theories to something better that makes their different insights cohere.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In a spirited and wide-ranging defence of ethical theory, Sorell combines sympathetic understanding and penetrating criticism. Both sceptics about theory and proponents of new paradigms will need to engage with his arguments."
Jimmy Altham, University of Cambridge

"Sorell convincingly shows how certain issues in applied ethics create anomalies. Do these anomalies result in a justified scepticism toward traditional ethical theory? No, but the claims of traditional theory must be more modest. A subtle and persuasive piece of philosophy."
Norman Bowie, The London Business School

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631218333
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Series: Aristotelian Society Monographs Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Sorell is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex. In 1996-7 he was Faculty Fellow in Ethics at Harvard University and he has published extensively in moral theory and applied ethics, philosophy of science and the history and historiography of early modern philosophy. His previous books include Moral Theory and Capital Punishment (Blackwell, 1987); Scientism: Philosophy and the Infatuation with Science (1991); and Hobbes (1986).

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Part 1 Doubts about Moral Theories
1 Moral Theory and Anti-theory 3
Uses for Moral Theory 4
Scepticism about Moral Theory 13
Countering Anti-theory 19
Summary 30
2 Theory versus Theories 32
Williams on Moral Theory 32
A Rough Parallel: Normal Science and Standard Normative Ethical Theory 41
Puzzles in Moral Theory 45
Puzzles versus Anomalies 54
The Argument of the Rest of the Book 57
Part 2 Some Sources of Anomaly?
3 Business, the Ethical and Self-interest 65
Two Sources of Prima-facie Anomaly 65
The Utopianism of Business Ethics 67
Moral Sensibility and Insensibility in Business 74
Near-realistic Business Ethics 78
Moral Reasons Again 80
The Deep Problem in Business Ethics 84
4 Politics, Power and Partisanship 91
Political Morality: the Moral Risks of Power for the Public Good 93
Dirty Hands 96
Public Morality, Private Morality and Moral Schizophrenia 99
Hampshire's Anti-theory of Political Morality 105
The Difference Democracy Makes 110
Democracy and Partisanship 113
5 Feminism and Moral Theory 118
How Conventional Theories Let Women Down 120
Moral Theory after Gilligan 123
Beyond Care? Sarah Hoagland's Lesbian Ethics 131
Theory without Patriarchy? 136
The Challenge of Practice: Two True Stories 139
Conclusion 145
6 Environmentalism and Moral Theory 147
The Land Ethic and its Competitors 148
Is the Land Ethic a Moral Theory? 151
How Thoroughgoing is the Land Ethic? 153
The Problem of Grounding Reconsidered 155
From Deep Environmentalist Theory to Practice 162
A Residual Anomaly 168
Part 3 Conclusion
7 The Significance of Anomaly 175
Anomalies Reviewed 176
Do Anomalies Have Anything in Common? 179
The Significance of Anomaly 187
Notes 193
Index 209
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