A Primer on Moral Concepts and Vocabulary

Teaching Philosophy (forthcoming)
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This article is an introduction to moral concepts. Its purpose is to introduce and explain vocabulary that can be used both in examining ethical theories, and in talking about the ethically significant aspects of concrete situations. We begin by distinguishing descriptive and normative claims, and explaining how moral claims are a special type of normative claims. We then introduce terms for the moral evaluation of actions, states of affairs, and motives. Focusing on the question ‘what should be done?’, we talk at some length about factors that influence the moral evaluation of actions, such as rights, duties, and consequences. We also cover related concepts such as justifications, excuses, praise, and blame. Finally, we discuss ethical reasoning and the roles played therein by principles, values, and theories.
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Archival date: 2022-08-01
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