Moral Indeterminacy, Normative Powers and Convention

Ratio 29 (4):448-465 (2016)
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Moral indeterminacy can be problematic: prospectively it can give rise to deliberative anguish, and retrospectively, it can leave us in a limbo as to what attitudes it is appropriate to form with respect to past actions with indeterminate moral status. These problems give us reason to resolve ethical indeterminacy. One mechanism for doing so involves the use of our normative powers to place obligations on ourselves and to waive our claims against others. This mechanism could operate through an explicit agreement, but could also operate through implicit endorsement of a social convention. However, there are important limits on when the mechanism can eliminate moral indeterminacy.

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Tom Dougherty
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


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