Ethics and Moral Tolerance

Ethics and Moral Tolerance

Ethics and Moral Tolerance

Ethics and Moral Tolerance

Excerpt

During the last few decades, in particular, philosophers have been increasingly engaged in asking themselves the question: What exactly is it that we mean when we say that such and such a thing has "value"? Classical philosophies were disposed to let this question go by default. Judgments about relative worth never were very far below the surface, but, just as in everyday thinking, these were taken for granted for the most part, and there was seldom any serious effort made to justify them apart from a disparagement of rival claims; each philosopher was satisfied to postulate the special kind of good that most appealed to him--typically it was apt to center about the intellectual life--without trying to explain the source of its peculiar eminence. In the greater philosophies this may often seem to lend a touch of added distinction; to one already disposed to look to rational order, for example, as the highest form of excellence, Plato's serene persuasion that here alone an indubitable good is to be found would very likely lose in impressiveness if it were to take account of doubts and qualifications. Nevertheless, it is clear that by leaving any fundamental premise unexamined we are also leaving it unprotected in case a critic chooses to call the postulate in question; and--an even more serious . . .

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