The Fundamental Divisions in Ethics

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-24 (2022)
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Abstract

What are the fundamental divisions in ethics? Which divisions capture the most important and basic options in moral theorizing? In this article, I reject the ‘Textbook View’ which takes the tripartite division between consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics to be fundamental. Instead, I suggest that moral theories are fundamentally divided into three independent divisions, which I call the neutral/relative division, the normative priority division, and the maximizing division. I argue that this account of the fundamental divisions of ethics better captures the main concerns that normative ethicists have when assessing moral theories. It also helps us make progress in comparative ethics and makes visible theoretical possibilities obscured by the Textbook View.

Author's Profile

Matthew Hammerton
Singapore Management University

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