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Ethics and HumanityThemes from the Philosophy of Jonathan Glover$
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N. Ann Davis, Richard Keshen, and Jeff McMahan

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195325195

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195325195.001.0001

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The Foundations of Humanity

The Foundations of Humanity

Chapter:
(p.175) 9 The Foundations of Humanity
Source:
Ethics and Humanity
Author(s):

Roger Crisp (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195325195.003.0009

This chapter concerns the metaethical foundations of Jonathan Glover's project in Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century. It begins by outlining both Glover's doubts about so‐called external reasons for action and his notion that ethics can be grounded in ‘self‐creation’. A distinction is drawn between nihilism about reasons, and a narrow version of externalism according to which there are reasons to act grounded in self‐creation. A mathematical analogy is used to suggest that the metaphysical and epistemological implications of externalism about reasons may be less worrying than Glover believes. The deep disagreement that persists in ethics, however, does require us often to suspend judgment. The chapter ends by suggesting that, by Glover's own lights, we should think that certain components of common sense morality, such as the acts and omissions doctrine, are significantly more harmful than the ‘monsters inside us’.

Keywords:   metaethics, external reasons, reasons, moral epistemology, disagreement, moral disagreement

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