Making Morality Work

ISBN : 9780199560080

Holly M. Smith
448 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Apr 2018
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Most of us hope to do what morality requires of us. But what if we cannot figure this out? A soldier may know, for example, that morality requires him not to kill innocent civilians, but he cannot determine whether the person careening towards him in an old car is an innocent civilian or a terrorist about to detonate a car bomb. Making Morality Work addresses this problem, asking whether we should reject moral codes that cannot be used by individuals hampered by imperfect knowledge. Holly M. Smith argues that the best moral codes solve this problem by offering two tiers, one of which tells us what makes acts right and wrong, and the other of which provides user-friendly decision guides that enable us to indirectly make decisions appropriate to the first tier moral standard. Making Morality Work opens a path towards resolving a deep problem of moral life.


1 Introduction
2 Using Moral Principles to Guide Decisions
3 Impediments to Usability: Error, Ignorance, and Uncertainty
4 Pragmatic Responses to the Problem of Error
5 A Further Disadvantage of Subjectivized Moral Codes
6 Non-Ideal Pragmatic Responses to the Problem of Error
7 Assessing Non-Ideal Pragmatic Responses to the Problem of Error
8 Hybrid and Austere Responses to the Problem of Error
9 The Problems of Ignorance and Uncertainty
10 The Hybrid Solution to the Problems of Error and Uncertainty
11 Multiple-Rule Hybrid Solutions to the Problems of Error and Uncertainty
12 Developing the Hybrid Solution
13 Developing the Hybrid Solution
14 Conclusion

About the author: 

Holly M. Smith is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University, following appointments at Tufts University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois-Chicago, and the University of Arizona. She has published widely on topics in normative ethics, moral decision making, the theory of moral responsibility, and bio-medical ethics.

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