AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

The Fragility of Ethics

by J.A.J. Sekreve

Institution: Universiteit Utrecht
Year: 2015
Keywords: Fragility of Ethics, Human Selfishness, Ethical Confidence, Humility
Record ID: 1241506
Full text PDF: http://dspace.library.uu.nl:8080/handle/1874/304459


Can we ever trust our ethical convictions so that truth is achievable in ethics? There are moral skeptics who argue that a psychological explanation of our ethical convictions undermines the possibility of those convictions being true. But such skeptics are wrong. We can sometimes trust our convictions and so truth is achievable. The central question of my thesis is: Is human selfishness a threat to ethical confidence? I argue that human selfishness is not a threat to ethical confidence. The fear is that the self-serving bias of human selfishness is unavoidable and therefore that ethical confidence could never be in order. But this fear is nothing more than an illusion, because if the character one has developed is virtuous, then one has come to possess the virtue of humility, and this will allow one to avoid the self-serving bias of human selfishness. Now the point is simply that there is nothing compulsory about this fear. So what I’m doing in my thesis is merely countering the bad reasons for supposing that it would be compulsory. This amounts to a limited and piecemeal defense of the idea that ethical confidence may be in order and that truth is achievable in ethics.