Special Session: Moral Philosophy Seminar (Thursday - Week 8, HT19)
The importance of reasons in contemporary ethical theory is pervasively evident. Many philosophers who regard reasons as important also consider them basic in the normative order, at least in the moral domain. That there is normative reason to avoid killing people, for instance, is plausibly and probably widely considered a truth not grounded in any further truth. Must it be so viewed? Utilitarians have taken the wrongness of killing to be derivative, and Aristotelians and other virtue ethicists apparently also take the good to be in some way prior to the right. The overall issue here has long been present in ethical theory. It concerns not only the relation between the good and the right but also the wider relation between value and obligation or, more abstractly, between the axiological and the deontic. The special concern of this paper is which broad domain, if either, is prior in determining moral standards for human conduct. There are many kinds of priority. Here it is ontic and epistemic priority that will be central.