- In this chapter I shall examine two theories (or classes of theory) that stand some chance of proving acceptable, both in respect of the explanations provided by their governing conceptions of the source of moral notions and moral motivation, and in respect of their basic normative output.
- The theories are, namely, utilitarianism1 and contractualism.
Author’s Summary (Conclusion)
- I have developed versions of both utilitarianism and contractualism that can claim not only to present a satisfying explanation of the origins of morality and of moral motivation, but also to accommodate a good deal, at least, of common-sense moral judgement.
- My own view is that contractualism is, under reflective equilibrium, by far the more plausible moral theory. But both are sufficiently powerful that we shall need to consider the consequences of each of them for our treatment of animals. It will be a further test of the adequacy of our two candidate theories that they should entail acceptable consequences2 on such matters.
Footnote 1: This is a rather primitive and implausible version of consequentialism.
- Of course, people will differ as to whether these consequences are or are not acceptable.
- They will also differ on whether – if in fact the consequences are indeed “unacceptable” to some or many – whether people should still be encouraged to accept them (and whether they morally ought to do so).
- The fact that I like steak – and being told I can’t have it is “unacceptable” to me – isn’t really an “unacceptable consequence” of a theory that says I can’t.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)