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Is Every Action Morally Significant?

PHILOSOPHY 86 July 2011


One form of scepticism about the possibility of moral theory does not deny that there is something describable as ‘the conduct of life’, but it argues that there is no special ethical account to be given of this since conduct has no identifiably moral dimension. Here I explore the possibility that the problem of identifying distinctively moral aspects of action is explained by the thesis that the moral is ubiquitous; that every human action is – not ‘may be’ – morally significant. To say, however, that morality is all pervasive is not to say anything about how demanding moral considerations may be. Reasons for action ultimately relate to promoting or protecting the human good, and their relative strength and urgency derives from the manner, extent and immediacy of their bearing upon this end and not from belonging to some logically distinct category.

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