Conflicting Values and Moral Pluralism in Normative Ethics

Culture and Values 34:9-26 (2022)
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This article explores the characteristics and problems of moral pluralism, a model of theory of obligation in normative ethics according to which (1) there is a plurality of basic moral principles; (2) these different principles may conflict with one another; (3) there is no strict order of priority for resolving conflicts between them. The author argues that this kind of theory satisfies better than competing proposals the requirement of conformity with our reflexive intuitions and, while not having a general resolution procedure, is able to settle the problem of conflict between the principles. He concludes pointing out that, despite all that can be done to improve conflict resolution methodologies, some margin of indeterminacy in moral theories is inevitable. And it is good that there is. Moral theories should not be a handbook of answers to be applied mechanically, without leaving room for autonomy of judgment by the evaluating subject.

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Francesco Allegri
Pegaso Telematic University of Naples


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