Abstract
Moral theories, such as the variations on virtue ethics, deontological ethics, contractualism, and consequentialism, are expected – inter alia – to explain the basic orientation of morality, give us principles and directives, justify those, and thereby guide our actions. I examine some functions and characteristics of the extant moral theories from a moral metatheoretical point of view, in order to clarify the generally assumed rivalry between them. By thinking of moral theories in analogy to languages it is argued that different moral theories are neither simply competing nor simply complementary; their respective orientations justify using them, in virtue of the problems they help to solve. But even if considerations about the functionality of a theory and the context in which it is created play an important role, they can neither be sufficient to determine these theories’ relations to one other nor for choosing between them. The challenge is to set criteria for the quality of a moral theory on a moral metatheoretical level and, in particular, to make room for future views on morality.
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DOI 10.1007/s42048-020-00077-1
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