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Третья встреча в рамках цикла "Conversations on Classical Ethics": разговор с профессором Скэнлоном

В 2021-м году в рамках совместного проекта Школы философии и культурологии ФГН и ИГИТИ им. А.В. Полетаева «Классика и классики этической мысли: ридер по этике» запускается серия бесед с ведущими современными философами о ключевых направлениях этической мысли, классике нравственной философии и ее месте в современном мире, роли этики как дисциплины в академическом пространстве. На второй встрече к участникам проектной группы присоединился Томас М. Скэнлон, профессор-эмеритус Гарвардского университета (США), один из самых влиятельных моральных философов современности

Третья встреча в рамках цикла "Conversations on Classical Ethics": разговор с профессором Скэнлоном

В 2021-м году в рамках совместного проекта Школы философии и культурологии ФГН и ИГИТИ им. А.В. Полетаева «Классика и классики этической мысли: ридер по этике» запускается серия разговоров с ведущими современными философами о ключевых направлениях этической мысли, классике нравственной философии и ее месте в современном мире, роли этики как дисциплины в академическом пространстве.

Третья встреча в рамках серии Conversations on Classical Ethics состоялась 26 апреля. К нашей группе присоединился Томас М. Скэнлон, профессор-эмеритус естественной религии, моральной философии и гражданской политии Гарвардского университета. Т.М. Скэнлон - один из наиболее влиятельных современных философов, создатель контрактуалистской теории в нормативной этике. В своих работах профессор Скэнлон обращается к проблемам моральной философии, метаэтики и политической философии. Он является автором таких важных книг как "What We Owe to Each Other", "Being Realistic about Reasons" и "The Difficulty of Tolerance".

Участники проекта обсудили с профессором Скэнлоном вопросы, связанные с проблематикой его контрактуалистской моральной теории, подробно рассмотрев её эволюцию, теоретические ограничения, сильные стороны и возможные пути дальнейшего развития. Отдельного внимания удостоились работы моральных философов Дэвида Готье и Дерека Парфита.

Мероприятие прошло онлайн в закрытом формате. Видеозапись можно посмотреть на сайте проектной группы (в разделе "Conversations on Classical Ethics") и на Youtube-канале ИГИТИ.

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1. On distinction between one’s personality and one’s moral theory.

In the text that we are discussing, you mention a very interesting remark about «Contractualism and Utilitarianism» made by Derek Parfit. As he said to you, this paper (at least in its early stages) looked more like an expression of your personality than a work in moral theory, pointing out the task of separating one from the other. However, a different position can be established: one that draws on the notion of philosophy as a way of life (proposed by authors like Pierre Hadot and Michel Foucault) and also on the basic theoretical principles of virtue ethics. Its proponents would state that moral philosophy should constitute exactly the attempt to elaborate and defend one’s personal views on morality by means of moral argument, thereby merging one’s life and one’s philosophical work. This position presupposes that our moral character can be molded and sustained mostly by practicing certain virtues and/or moral principles which we deem right.

What do you think about this virtue-based position, which seems to be an alternative to Parfit’s? In your view, ultimately, should one base one’s moral philosophy on one’s personality, one’s moral character and moral virtues which are formed and sustained in the course of one’s life? If not, where is the boundary that separates these two spheres of personal life and philosophy?

 

2. On the role of moral intuition and intuitive thinking in moral theory

In “Contractualism and Justification” you pay considerable attention to the notion of moral intuition and intuitive thinking — for instance, as you point out, a certain type of moral argument can be drawn from our moral intuitions, one that can be used to discover the “first principles” in moral philosophy (such as contractualist principle of justification) by employing the method of reflective equilibrium. Moreover, as you write, intuitive normative thinking is “inescapable” and should be used to reflect on our reasonsfor acceptance or rejection of a given moral principle.

            Building on these remarks, I wanted to ask whether, in your view, moral intuition is somehow connected to our innate desire to find and agree on moral principle, a desire that played an important role in your early work, such as “Contractualism and Utilitarianism”? Can this desire be considered an expression or a subpart of our moral intuition, or vice versa?

To continue with this idea of an innate desire… Unlike David Gauthier’s famous theory of “contractarianism” which tends to focus on rationality as a core cause of agreement between moral actors, contractualist theory gives more weight to the alternative idea — namely, that moral agreement depends heavily on people’s desire to find moral principles that no one would reject.

Would you say that there is, indeed, a considerable discrepancy between Gauthier’s rationalist premises and your premise of an innate desire for the agreement?

...From the standpoint of “Contractualism and Utilitarianism”, the desire that we are talking about is one without which agreement itself is impossible — people who lack this desire, who are not moved by it, are ipso facto unable to participate in moral agreement as such.

Thus, my second question concerns the possible limits of contractualist moral reasoning. Presumably, what happens when a person who is not moved either by desire or by reasons to find non-rejectable justifiable principles defies the contractualist moral agreement of other people, even though it is reasonable enough? Can this person be considered an immoral (or amoral) one? How should those who are led by the mentioned desire or reasons conduct themselves in regard to that person?

 

3. On the pluralism of morality and moral reasoning.

            In “Contractualism and Justification” you follow Derek Parfit in acknowledging that moral actions can be wrong in some non-contractualist sense.  However, the new “revised contractualism” presented in this paper seems to be moving away from this acknowledgment and focusing on supplementing contractualist justification with impersonal reasons for why the rejection of a given principle might be unreasonable. As you put it, revised contractualism seeks to take into account the number of individuals affected by a moral action without resorting to consequentialist aggregative principles.

Thus, I wanted to ask whether you think it possible and/or necessary to actually use the notion of moral pluralism in our reasoning, thereby explaining the rightness and wrongness of our actions by turning to non-contractualist moral theories?

If cases that call for such an approach do exist, are there any more or less universal criteria for their identification, or should one decide and reason ad hoc,on the case basis?