Utilitas

Research Article

Moral Demands, Moral Pragmatics, and Being Good

SAUL SMILANSKYa1

a1 University of Haifa Smilsaul@research.haifa.ac.il

Abstract

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.

Footnotes

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.