The Definition of Morality: Threading the Needle

Social Theory and Practice 40 (3):361-387 (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

This essay proposes and defends a descriptive definition of morality. Under this definition, a moral system is a system of rules, psychological states, and modes of character development that performs the function of enabling mutually beneficial social cooperation. I shall argue that the methodologies employed by two prominent moral psychologists to establish a descriptive definition of morality only serve to track patterns in people’s uses of moral terms. However, these methods at best reveal a nominal definition of morality, since moral appraisers may be ignorant about the referents of their moral terms. I propose a real definition of morality that characterizes moral systems as a natural kind—more precisely, a copied kind. I explain what it takes for a moral system to satisfy this definition, and I identify the sorts of evidence needed to distinguish moral systems from value systems of other kinds.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,991

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2014-06-25

Downloads
113 (#160,960)

6 months
20 (#138,999)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Citations of this work

Error Theory and Abolitionist Ethics.Lucia Schwarz - 2020 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 58 (3):431-455.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references