Cristin-resultat-ID: 1245158
Sist endret: 29. mai 2015, 12:40
Vitenskapelig foredrag

Moral Progress Through Impartiality

  • Sveinung Sundfør Sivertsen


Navn på arrangementet: PhD Forum 3: Practical Philosophy
Sted: Trondheim
Dato fra: 20. mai 2015
Dato til: 21. mai 2015


Arrangørnavn: Programme for Applied Ethics, NTNU

Om resultatet

Vitenskapelig foredrag
Publiseringsår: 2015

Beskrivelse Beskrivelse


Moral Progress Through Impartiality


Ethics has long been compared to science, and is usually taken to come up short, methodologically speaking. One of the consequences of this is the belief that there will always be moral disputes that cannot be resolved rationally, or even that most our moral disputes – if they are not merely empirical misunderstandings – cannot be thus resolved. Work by Lorraine Daston (1992) and others on the history of 'objectivity' has shown how the dominant ideal of objectivity in modern natural science – aperspectival objectivity – has its roots in the notion of impartiality first developed in the ethics and aesthetics of the eighteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment. What is now the creed of the scientist striving to exclude from her research and her reports any distorting influence of who she, as an individual, happens to be was already then developed by Adam Smith into a full-fledged moral theory centred on the image of the "impartial spectator" (1759/1790, 2002). This realisation should weaken (still further) the intuitive sting of W. V. O. Quine's regret of the "methodological infirmity of ethics as compared to science." (1979, 477) If we are to believe Michele M. Moody-Adams (1997), it’s necessary. While Quine's grounding of his regret in the "irreparable lack of empirical checkpoints that are the solace of the scientist" (1979, 480) has long sat uneasily in a philosophical landscape post Thomas Kuhn (or Donna Haraway), the core suspicion – that there is little hope of resolving moral disputes rationally – remains widely influential. On this background, I will show how the methodological affinity between Smith and modern science casts new light on the potential for his method of moral judgement to resolve moral disputes and drive genuine moral progress.


Sveinung Sundfør Sivertsen

  • Tilknyttet:
    ved Filosofi og førstesemesterstudier ved Universitetet i Bergen
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