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29 November: Cheryl Misak (University of Toronto)

“Moral Progress II: The Construction of Moral Norms”

Abstract: This paper is the second of three on pragmatism and moral progress. The first, “Moral Progress I: Nothing Scoundrelous About Truth” argues that we need a conception of truth for morality and that a pragmatist account of truth is the right one. This current paper will argue, in reply to Henry Richardson’s Articulating the Moral Community: Towards a Constructive Ethical Pragmatism, that moral norms are introduced into our evolving body of moral belief in a variety of ways, not merely in the one rights-and-duties way that Richardson countenances. We need to take pointers 1) from Peirce and C.I. Lewis and think about the role of experience; 2) from Dewey and think of democratic ways in which we might introduce and ratify a moral norm and 3) from Holmes and think about the role of law.