What is Moral Application? Towards a Philosophical Theory of Applied Ethics

Applied Ethics. The Past, Present and Future of Applied Ethics (2017)
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The aim of this paper is to offer some philosophical remarks concerning the concept of moral application in applied ethics. In doing so, I argue in favour of a philosophical approach towards applied ethics as a unitary form of moral experience. In fact every form of applied ethics, no matter how specific, moves from a problem of application and tries to fill a gap between moral theory and practice. This essential unity of applied ethics as a moral phenomenon is of great philosophical interest, since it belongs to the core problem from which moral thinking itself originates. For this reason, what applied ethics may reveal to a philosophical inquiry could provide valuable insight into the nature of moral experience itself. This is why it is important to reflect on what applied ethics is and whether the way in which application is usually framed be ts the properties of moral experience or not. In the first section I submit some preliminary remarks concerning the theoretical requirements to any philosophical approach to applied ethics. In the second section I present how application is commonly understood in the applied ethics debate by discussing the deductive and the procedural models of application. Both models, however, draw upon a technological conception of application which fails to t the structure of moral experience. Finally, I brie y sketch out the main features and the future tasks of what seems to me to be the most promising approach to the issue, i.e., the hermeneutic concept of application.

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Fabio Fossa
Politecnico di Milano


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