Whence the Demand for Ethical Theory?

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Abstract
Where does the impetus towards ethical theory come from? What drives humans to make values explicit, consistent, and discursively justifiable? This paper situates the demand for ethical theory in human life by identifying the practical needs that give rise to it. Such a practical derivation puts the demand in its place: while finding a place for it in the public decision-making of modern societies, it also imposes limitations on the demand by presenting it as scalable and context-sensitive. This differentiates strong forms of the demand calling for theory from weaker forms calling for less, and contexts where it has a place from contexts where it is out of place. In light of this, subjecting personal deliberation to the demand turns out to involve a trade-off.
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First archival date: 2019-11-13
Latest version: 9 (2020-09-30)
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2019-05-27

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