Technology, Transgenics and a Practical Moral Code
Most philosophers still like to feel that they have a special subject matter, well insulated from anything that the social scientists, and scientists in general, have to tell them. That is not healthy for philosophy; and it is all too likely to lead to an ethics that continues, as of old, to plead for its ultimates-the fact that one is totally ineffectual being decently concealed by an impressive terminology. (Stevenson 1963, pp. 114–5) Many so-called moral theories do not even attempt to explain or justify common morality but are used to generate guides to conduct intended to replace common morality. These p- posed moral guides, those generated by all of the standard consequentialist, contractarian, and deontological theories, are far simpler than the common moral system and sometimes yield totally unacceptable answers to moral problems. Since these philosophers who put forward these theories have usually dismissed common morality as confused, they are c- pletely unaware of the complexity involved in making moral decisions and judgments. It is not surprising that many who take morality seriously and try to apply it to real problems faced by actual people are so critical of moral theory. (Bernard Gert 1998, p. 6) As both Stevenson and Gert note, ethics requires social and other sciences for by its very nature, ethics is a practical enterprise.
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