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The role of moral theories in the teaching of applied ethics

Lawlor, R. (2007) The role of moral theories in the teaching of applied ethics. Journal of Medical Ethics, 33. pp. 370-372.

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Abstract

It is argued, in this paper, that moral theories should not be discussed extensively when teaching applied ethics. First, it is argued that, students are either presented with a large amount of information regarding the various subtle distinctions and the nuances of the theory and, as a result, the students simply fail to take it in or, alternatively, the students are presented with a simplified caricature of the theory, in which case the students may understand the information they are given, but what they have understood is of little or no value because it is merely a caricature of a theory. Second, there is a methodological problem with appealing to moral theories to solve particular issues in applied ethics. An analogy with science is appealed to. In physics there is a hope that we could discover a unified theory of everything. But this is, of course, a hugely ambitious project, and much harder than, for example, finding a theory of motion. If the physicist wants to understand motion, he should try to do so directly. We would think he was particularly misguided if he thought that, to answer this question, he first needed to construct a unified theory of everything.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2007 BMJ Publishing.
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Philosophy (Leeds)
Depositing User: Leeds Philosophy Department
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 17:15
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2007 17:16
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jme.2006.018044
Status: Published
Publisher: BMJ Publishing
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1136/jme.2006.018044
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3242

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