EXTENDED ABSTRACT: In this article I discuss some aspects of prima facie statements and compare them with some deductive properties of moral rules. The conclusion I draw is in the sense of a re-evaluation of some aspects of moral intuitionism, which seems essential to the concepts of moral imagination and moral education. In fact, while it is true that ethical reflection is at the service of the action and that our moral experience is frequently fragmented, it is equally undeniable that we continually make use of moral rules in our thoughts, and in our actions, both in a posteriori justification of our past actions and of past actions of other agents. These rules sometimes seem to be significant enough to enter in the formulation of legislative devices. What is expressed in general rules is the existence of a relationship between certain properties and an event, relationship can be expressed in this way: “for all x, if there is y, then z”, where it is supposed that there is at least one property which is relevant to the universality or generality of the practical scenario. The intuitionist model of D. Ross, based on the role of prima facie statements, tells us a different story. According to Ross, singular judgments cannot always be deduced from the conjunction of a moral standard and a specific case, since they may not always receive their deontic character from this conjunction. However, the morality of an action depends solely on the fact that it incorporates some fundamental property that is part of a prima facie valid norm. These properties, unequivocally, create a certain emotional tone, which helps to form the presumption of their validity, but may be overshadowed and overwhelmed by different constellations of fundamental properties. Our moral environment is, in fact, inherently complex, adaptive to our needs, and involve the use of tools of reasoning with various degrees of flexibility and sensitivity to the context of the choices: these are all elements that make a project of ethics limited to particular cases highly implausible and, in fact, even those, who are suspicious of an ethics tightly bound to general prima facie statements, think that an excessive specification – proper names, indexicals, definite descriptions – could not distinguish their position from moral particularism. A moral strategy that is sensitive to the context of application is therefore not really a strategy that calls into question general ethics, because, while we can assume that the relevant moral properties are sensitive to the context and at the same time are relevant in a diversified manner, we can also continue to maintain that special cases are meaningful only if they can be traced back to relevant properties. For example, the wickedness of a murderer is explained by its relationship with the evil of murder in general. If we assume that the judgment on the particular evil of a particular murder is due solely to some other character, different from the intrinsic evil of murder, then we should abandon the possibility of an explanation through moral principles. Thinking about our values as a network could throw new light on the problem of moral indeterminacy. The facts that appear to be more uncertain from the point of view of ethics would be those that are on the periphery of our moral map. Some of the phenomena that may be described as networks are highly structured and solid; in other words, it is not sufficient to bring about the collapse of nodes at random because the system tends to dissolve, since the nodes with the highest number of connections are those which can cause a plight. Does the same strategy apply also within moral systems? Supposedly, in moral systems the peripheral nodes are those which are most exposed to superficial vulnerability, and those which are closer to the central ones are the nodes which can cause the collapse of the system. This topography could explain why moral dilemmas are not so frequent in everyday life, after all, but when they occur they are able to short-circuit our moral system.

Some Remarks on Moral Rules

MARRONE, PIERPAOLO
2013

Abstract

EXTENDED ABSTRACT: In this article I discuss some aspects of prima facie statements and compare them with some deductive properties of moral rules. The conclusion I draw is in the sense of a re-evaluation of some aspects of moral intuitionism, which seems essential to the concepts of moral imagination and moral education. In fact, while it is true that ethical reflection is at the service of the action and that our moral experience is frequently fragmented, it is equally undeniable that we continually make use of moral rules in our thoughts, and in our actions, both in a posteriori justification of our past actions and of past actions of other agents. These rules sometimes seem to be significant enough to enter in the formulation of legislative devices. What is expressed in general rules is the existence of a relationship between certain properties and an event, relationship can be expressed in this way: “for all x, if there is y, then z”, where it is supposed that there is at least one property which is relevant to the universality or generality of the practical scenario. The intuitionist model of D. Ross, based on the role of prima facie statements, tells us a different story. According to Ross, singular judgments cannot always be deduced from the conjunction of a moral standard and a specific case, since they may not always receive their deontic character from this conjunction. However, the morality of an action depends solely on the fact that it incorporates some fundamental property that is part of a prima facie valid norm. These properties, unequivocally, create a certain emotional tone, which helps to form the presumption of their validity, but may be overshadowed and overwhelmed by different constellations of fundamental properties. Our moral environment is, in fact, inherently complex, adaptive to our needs, and involve the use of tools of reasoning with various degrees of flexibility and sensitivity to the context of the choices: these are all elements that make a project of ethics limited to particular cases highly implausible and, in fact, even those, who are suspicious of an ethics tightly bound to general prima facie statements, think that an excessive specification – proper names, indexicals, definite descriptions – could not distinguish their position from moral particularism. A moral strategy that is sensitive to the context of application is therefore not really a strategy that calls into question general ethics, because, while we can assume that the relevant moral properties are sensitive to the context and at the same time are relevant in a diversified manner, we can also continue to maintain that special cases are meaningful only if they can be traced back to relevant properties. For example, the wickedness of a murderer is explained by its relationship with the evil of murder in general. If we assume that the judgment on the particular evil of a particular murder is due solely to some other character, different from the intrinsic evil of murder, then we should abandon the possibility of an explanation through moral principles. Thinking about our values as a network could throw new light on the problem of moral indeterminacy. The facts that appear to be more uncertain from the point of view of ethics would be those that are on the periphery of our moral map. Some of the phenomena that may be described as networks are highly structured and solid; in other words, it is not sufficient to bring about the collapse of nodes at random because the system tends to dissolve, since the nodes with the highest number of connections are those which can cause a plight. Does the same strategy apply also within moral systems? Supposedly, in moral systems the peripheral nodes are those which are most exposed to superficial vulnerability, and those which are closer to the central ones are the nodes which can cause the collapse of the system. This topography could explain why moral dilemmas are not so frequent in everyday life, after all, but when they occur they are able to short-circuit our moral system.
http://www.openstarts.units.it/dspace/bitstream/10077/8935/1/MARRONE.pdf
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11368/2722685
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