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Partiality and ImpartialityMorality, Special Relationships, and the Wider World$
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Brian Feltham and John Cottingham

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199579952

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199579952.001.0001

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The Demands of Impartiality and the Evolution of Morality

The Demands of Impartiality and the Evolution of Morality

(p.42) 2 The Demands of Impartiality and the Evolution of Morality
Partiality and Impartiality

Gerald F. Gaus

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Kantian-inspired conceptions of morality must embrace significant parts of an evolutionary view of ethics. According to one sort of Kantian, to respect others as free and equal persons requires that the moral demands made on them are uniquely justified from the impartial perspective. It is argued that under conditions of evaluative pluralism, this idea of impartial reflection is indeterminate. Rational reflection can narrow the field, but actual interactions of good-willed people are needed to fill in the large gaps, and give us a morality that we all can will. Morality is properly seen as consisting of self-imposed requirements verified from the impartial perspective and as having a history that is path-dependent. Indeed, only an evolved morality can be justified to everyone.

Keywords:   public reason, impartiality, evolution, Kantian ethics

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