Telling Right from Wrong: What Is Moral, What Is Immoral, and What Is Neither One nor the Other

Telling Right from Wrong: What Is Moral, What Is Immoral, and What Is Neither One nor the Other

Telling Right from Wrong: What Is Moral, What Is Immoral, and What Is Neither One nor the Other

Telling Right from Wrong: What Is Moral, What Is Immoral, and What Is Neither One nor the Other

Synopsis

An important contribution to the field of moral philosophy, this book provides an objective and precise answer to the question, "What is morality?" Moral philosophers, the author claims, have gotten bogged down in metaethical questions and now find themselves in a hopelessly relativistic position. Cooney develops a unique moral theory and isolates and explores the core of morality, separating actual moral issues from apparent ones.

Excerpt

There are, I believe, two substantively different things that pass under the heading of morality. One is a set of hybrids, the other is a set of opinions; I will call them, respectively, the primary code and the secondary code. the failure to recognize the difference between these two codes is the great error of moral philosophy.

In morality—or what passes for morality—we have examples of all the errors and problems that we found in nonmoral discourse, including the employment of the hybrid form when it doesn't apply; the unannounced mataphor; the failure to appreciate the hidden definitions of certain words; the violation of the Basic Rule; and the innocent driven wild by what they hear and the reaction to what they say.In broad terms, the great error of moral philosophy has been caused by using the same words and grammatical forms in discussing two very different types of acts, thus creating an illusion of sameness where none, in fact, exists. I am going to try to show that despite appearances, the statements "Murder is wrong" and "Abortion is wrong" are as different as day from night.

The primary code

Murder is wrong—and so are robbery, arson, assault, and pol-

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