Generalization in Ethics: An Essay in the Logic of Ethics, with the Rudiments of a System of Moral Philosophy

By Marcus George Singer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER · X
THE BASIS OF MORALITY

What, then, have we accomplished? Have we established the basis of morality? What is the basis of morality? Does morality have a basis? Or is it merely, as it has been so often alleged, a matter of convention, tradition, taste, or opinion?

The principles set forth in this work are sufficient to provide an answer to this question, and all that remains is to elaborate it. To establish the rationality of these principles is to establish the rational basis of morality. For these rational moral principles are themselves the basis of morality--not of any morality, or of anything that might go by the name of morality, but of rational morality. Any morality contains elements of custom, convention, and tradition, some more and some less. Many rules are inexplicable apart from these factors. Accounting for a particular moral code is thus in many ways like accounting for a particular legal system. But a rational morality is one the basic rules and principles of which are supported by reasons. And this is what we are dealing with, not with taboos, or parochial moral prejudices.

This does something to isolate our question, but it does nothing to establish these principles themselves. Do they have any rational basis? Given that moral rules can be established

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