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Michael Smith and the daleks: reason, morality, and contingency

Lenman, James (1999) Michael Smith and the daleks: reason, morality, and contingency. Utilitas, 11 (2). pp. 164-177. ISSN 1741-6183


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Smith has defended the rationalist's conceptual claim that moral requirements are categorical requirements of reason, arguing that no status short of this would make sense of our taking these requirements as seriously as we do. Against this I argue that Smith has failed to show either that our moral commitments would be undermined by possessing only an internal, contextual justification or that they need presuppose any expectation that rational agents must converge on their acceptance. His claim that this rationalistic understanding of metaethics is required for the intelligibility of moral disagreement is also found to be inadequately supported. It is further proposed that the rationalist's substantive claims - that there are such categorical requirements of reason and that our actual moral commitments are a case in point - are liable to disappointment; and that the conceptual claim is fatally undermined by reflection on how we might best respond to such disappointment.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 1999 Edinburgh University Press.
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Department of Philosophy (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2006
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2014 00:36
Status: Published
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1642

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