Practical Structure and Moral Skill

Philosophical Quarterly 72 (3):713-732 (2022)
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I argue that moral skill is limited and precarious. It is limited because global moral skill—the capacity for morally excellent behaviour within an über action domain, such as the domain of living, or of all-things-considered decisions, or the same kind of capacity applied across a superset of more specific action domains—is not to be found in humans. It is precarious because relatively local moral skill, while possible, is prone to misfire. My arguments depend upon the diversity of practical structures confronting human agents, the limitations of human skill learning and reason-sensitivity, and the failure of moral considerations to respect the social and institutional boundaries we develop to structure our practical lives.

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Joshua Shepherd
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


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