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OBJECTIVITY IN ETHICS; TWO DIFFICULTIES, TWO RESPONSES

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Abstract:

Abstract

The paper, based on the H.L.A. Hart Memorial Lecture in Jurisprudence and Moral Philosophy, delivered in Oxford on 11th May 2004, sets out to answer two difficulties which the late J. L. Mackie proposed (in his book Ethics: Inventing Right & Wrong) against the idea of objectivity in ethics. These were (1) the metaphysical peculiarity (‘queerness’) of values and obligations and (2) the ‘well known variation in moral codes from one society to another’ (‘relativity’). It is argued that the true import of Mackie's two difficulties is that they are a challenge to us to study with closer attention the dialectical and conceptual resources of ethical thinking. In the answer to the second difficulty, the ethic of globalism is revealed as a gross misunderstanding of true internationalism.1

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9329.2005.00267.x

Affiliations: New College Oxford OX1 3BN

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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