“Practice Views Revisited” by Katherina Nieswandt, Center for Ethics in Society, Stanford University
DATE: Thursday, February 11
Thomas Scanlon and others have argued that ‘practice views’ give the wrong kind of reasons for moral duties, which shows up in the fact that they identify the wrong addressees of these duties. The reason why I must not break my promise to you, for instance, should lie in the harm that this does to you, rather than in the harm that it does to the practice of promising or to our community. I demonstrate that the wrong reason objection indeed applies to some practice views, notably rule-conquentialism and (Hobbes’) contractarianism. Drawing on ideas by Elizabeth Anscombe, however, I offer an alternative understanding of the role of the practice in ethical justifications.