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Moral Demands, Moral Pragmatics, and Being Good


I point out an odd consequence of the role that broadly pragmatic considerations regularly (and reasonably) play in determining moral demands. As a result of the way in which moral demands are formed, it turns out that people will frequently become morally good in a strange and rather dubious way. Because human beings are not very good, we will lower our moral demands and, as a result, most people will turn out, in an important sense, to be morally good. Our relative badness, by giving us good reasons to limit moral demands, makes us morally good.

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A draft of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the Israeli Philosophical Association in October 2008, and I am grateful for comments made on that occasion. I am very grateful to Aliza Avraham, Yuval Cohen, David Enoch, Iddo Landau, Tal Manor, Ariel Meirav, Meshi Ori, Avital Pilpel, and Daniel Statman, for comments on drafts of this article.

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  • ISSN: 0953-8208
  • EISSN: 1741-6183
  • URL: /core/journals/utilitas
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