Moral Uncertainty and Its Consequences

Moral Uncertainty and Its Consequences

Moral Uncertainty and Its Consequences

Moral Uncertainty and Its Consequences

Synopsis

We are often uncertain how to behave morally in complex situations. In this controversial study, Ted Lockhart contends that moral philosophy has failed to address how we make such moral decisions. Adapting decision theory to the task of decision-making under moral uncertainly, he proposes that we should not always act how we feel we ought to act, and that sometimes we should act against what we feel to be morally right. Lockhart also discusses abortion extensively and proposes new ways to deal with the ethical and moral issues which surround it.

Excerpt

In this book, I urge reforming our thinking about moral decision-making in three ways. I argue that most ethicists' views about the role our moral beliefs should play in our choices of action are inadequate in several important respects and in need of repair. If adopted, the reforms that I shall offer would greatly alter how we make moral decisions.

Chapter 1 begins by posing the question, "What shall I do when I am uncertain what I morally ought to do?" For urgent, problematic moral decisions, this is the practical quandary that we often face. I show that how we should act under moral uncertainty is not necessarily, and is often not in fact, how we morally ought to act. a surprising corollary is that even if moral considerations have paramount importance, we should not always do what we know is morally right. Whether moral considerations actually have this exalted status is a controversial issue in contemporary ethics, and I consider the possibility that they do not. However, in either event, the problems of decision-making under moral uncertainty that we face are essentially the same, whether or not we view moral considerations as always preempting nonmoral considerations.

It is reasonable to ask why, if decision-making under moral uncertainty is as important and as ubiquitous a problem as I claim, ethicists have paid virtually no attention to it? in chapter 1, I explore several possible explanations of their lack . . .

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