Doing Better: The Next Revolution in Ethics

By Tad Dunne | Go to book overview

1.
INTRODUCTION

METHOD IN ETHICS

Among ethicists today, there are many conflicting opinions about what is better and what is worse. Where these differences seem unresolvable, the conflicts can usually be traced to different approaches or, to be exact, to conflicting methods in ethics.

Can these conflicts about method be overcome? The natural sciences—physics, chemistry, biology—owe their fantastic success largely to a method that everyone accepts and whose results keep on coming. Can ethics do the same? Might we some day converge on a method that is significantly more effective in making our lives better? If we can, it will certainly require a revolution in human studies1 as comprehensive as the revolution in the natural sciences and far more important for the quality of our lives.

Of course, there is a huge difference between the “nature” studied in the natural sciences and the “humanity” studied in the human studies. In nature, things are predictable; surprises are rare. But humanity is continually surprising. We are creative. We come up with unprecedented ideas about living well together. We develop sciences, laws, societies, technologies, and economies that make living far more efficient for millions of people. Our creativity is also moral. Through the arts, judicial systems, humanities education, philosophy, and religion, we provide moral guidelines to individuals and to our social institutions. It is a distinguishing characteristic of our species that we are driven by a creative desire to do better.

On the other hand, we also violate our creativity. We can suppress our own ingenuity when it comes to benefiting others more than ourselves. We can deliberately act against what we know is better. With every change in laws, politics, technology, or the economy, we tend to exploit new opportunities to benefit ourselves at others’ expense. Nor do the arts, the judiciary, the humanities, philosophy or religion easily maintain high moral standards. These voices of culture are no less susceptible to the temptations of money, praise, and power.

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Doing Better: The Next Revolution in Ethics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - We Live in a Moral Universe 23
  • 3 - Our Normative Sources Are within 40
  • 4 - Our Normative Drives Are Ordered 56
  • 5 - Our Normative Drives Are Wounded 70
  • 6 - Our Normative Drives Are Healed 86
  • 7 - The Open Ethicist 100
  • 8 - Method 144
  • 9 - Models 156
  • 10 - Practical Ethics 194
  • 11 - Conclusion 222
  • Appendix- Foundational Ethical Categories 245
  • Notes 280
  • Index 292
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