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The Evolution of Moral ProgressA Biocultural Theory$
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Allen Buchanan and Russell Powell

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190868413

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190868413.001.0001

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Contemporary Accounts of Moral Progress

Contemporary Accounts of Moral Progress

(p.67) Chapter 2 Contemporary Accounts of Moral Progress
The Evolution of Moral Progress

Allen Buchanan

Oxford University Press

This chapter lays out several alternative understandings of moral progress found in the contemporary literature of analytical moral and political philosophy. None of these amounts to a theory of moral progress, but each is suggestive of some of the building blocks for constructing such a theory. Among the accounts considered are those offered by Peter Singer, Ruth Macklin, Philip Kitcher, and Peter Railton. A taxonomy of types of views is provided, utilizing the following distinctions: monistic (reductionist) versus pluralistic, static versus dynamic, and better norm compliance versus functionalist, where the latter are grounded in the idea that managing problems of cooperation is constitutive of morality. Each of these understandings is shown to be inadequate because it is unable to accommodate the full range of types of moral progress or, in the case of functionalist views, because it betrays an impoverished conception of what morality has come to encompass.

Keywords:   expanding the circle, fixed versus dynamic content, cooperative group understanding of morality, functionalism, strategic morality, subject-centered conception of morality

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