Partial Evidence: An enquiry concerning a possible affinity between literary moral cognitivism and moral pluralism

Interdisciplinary Literary Studies 19 (3):372-395 (2017)
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Abstract
This paper begins by affirming the view that if there is a debate to be had over whether literature can convey moral knowledge, then efforts by proponents to substantiate this claim will already be necessarily conditioned by an understanding of what morality consists in, independently of literature. This observation brings to light a certain danger for the debate, namely that if participants fail to explicitly specify the ethical theory that they rely on, then the debate can seem nebulous. This raises a new question: is there an account of morality, independent of literature, which is most conducive to literary moral cognitivism, that is, which optimises literary moral cognitivism's chances of succeeding philosophically? This paper both formulates and investigates this hypothesis with reference to moral pluralism, the view that there is an irreducible plurality of foundational moral principles. It concludes that such an affinity exists, but with an important caveat: the affinity is stronger at the level of moral suggestion than the level of moral justification. This has implications for the strength of the version of literary moral cognitivism that it is ultimately plausible to endorse from a moral pluralist point of view.
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Archival date: 2018-02-05
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