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PHILOS 1B03 (352)

The Concept of a Moral Position

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McMaster University
David Goutor

The Concept of a Moral Position & February 24, 2014 The Legal Enforcement of Morality Hart on Devlin Two main criticisms of Devlin: 1. Is the preservation of society’s public morality necessarily a good thing? - What if that morality is based on prejudice, superstition, 2. Is morality solely a function of sentiment and feelings? If not, then rational critique, may allow is a way to determine whether some existing public morality is in fact worthy of support and enforcement Dworkin - Ronald Dowrkin was sympathetic to Hart’s crtitique of Devlin - Following Hart’s lead, Dworkin critiqued Devlin’s conception of The Legislatures Dilemma - You’re a legislative MP and you’re required to vote on a proposed bill preventing public- sphere workers from wearing “conspicuous religious symbols” in the workplace” - The vast majority of your constituents fully support the bill - But you believe they are morally wrong. In your view the bill: • Would unjustifiably infringe freedom of expression and religion, as well as the equality rights of religious minorities • Is the result of deep seated prejudice against Muslims - What’s your duty as a legislature? - Should you: • Ignore your own morla convictions and bow to the moral views of your constituents • Refuse to endorse their position and instead vote against the bill Anthropoligical v Discriminatory - Is it your duty to respect the moral position of your community in the descriptive or “anthropological sense” of that phase Anthropological Sense - P is a moral position in the deescriptivw or anthropoligcal wsense when P reflects: “whatever attitudes the group displays about the propriety of human conduct, qualities, or goals” - P can be irrational or arbitrary or based on prejudice, personal aversion, or mere taste Discriminatory Sense - P is a moral position in the discriminatory sense when P passes muster - It must satisfy some of the basic “ground rules of moral reasoning” - But what are these? Dworkin’s Basic Ground Rules 1. Position based on reasons 2. Reasons advanced not rooted in prejudice 3. Reason advanced cannot be that S is morally inferior owing to personal characteristics S “cannot help having” (395) e.g. race, physically ability, native intelligence 4. Reason advanced not a mere “emotional reaction” (395) e.g. “I find this disgusting or repulsive” “The moral postion is suppoised to justify the emotional reaction, not vice versa” (395) 5. No reliance on a propostition of fact that is “… so implausible that it challenges the minial standards of evidence and arguemnt [we] generally accept and impose on others.” (396) e.g. homosexuality is a ‘lifestyle choice’q 6. No appeal to simple fact th
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