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Weighing Reasons$
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Errol Lord and Barry Maguire

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199315192

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199315192.001.0001

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The Modesty of the Moral Point of View

The Modesty of the Moral Point of View

(p.241) 12 The Modesty of the Moral Point of View
Weighing Reasons

Karl Schafer

Oxford University Press

In recent years, several philosophers (Joshua Gert, Douglas Portmore, and Elizabeth Harman) have argued that morality itself does not treat moral reasons as consistently overriding. This chapter develops and extends this idea from a somewhat different perspective, offering an alternative way of formalizing the idea that morality is modest about the weight of moral reasons—making explicit the connections between this thesis and similar issues in the epistemic sphere. These ideas transform our thinking about familiar questions such as the nature of self-effacement, the significance of reflective endorsement, the weight that moral reasons ought to be given all-things-considered, and the plausibility of “indirect” moral theories. These ideas are shown to be compatible even with pictures of morality—such as Kant’s—on which morality might seem to anything but modest about its own importance.

Keywords:   rationality, moral reasons, moral requirements, moral sainthood, supererogation, demandingness, overridingness, self-effacement, value pluralism

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