Explaining Right and Wrong aims to shake the foundations of contemporary ethics by showing that moral philosophers have been deploying a mistaken methodology in their efforts to figure out the truth about what we morally ought to do. Benjamin Sachs argues that moral theorizing makes sense only if it is conceived of as an explanatory project and carried out accordingly. The book goes on to show that the most prominent forms of moral monism—consequentialism, Kantianism, and contractarianism/contractualism—as well as Rossian pluralism, each face devastating explanatory objections. It offers in place of these flawed options a brand-new family of normative ethical theories, non-Rossian pluralism. It then argues that the best kind of non-Rossian pluralism will be spare; in particular, it will deny that an action can be wrong in virtue of constituting a failure to distribute welfare in a particular way or that an action can be wrong in virtue of constituting a failure to rescue. Furthermore, it also aims to show that a great deal of contemporary writing on the distribution of health care resources in cases of scarcity is targeted at questions that either have no answers at all or none that ordinary moral theorizing can uncover.
"This book contains several original arguments and thought-provoking ideas. The primary argument about moral theorizing as an explanatory endeavour binds moral theory, normative ethics, and applied ethics into a unique argumentative field that paves the way for many important, distinct, and novel insights that the author discusses. All this opens new ground for future debates in the field." --Vojko Strahovnik, University of Ljubljana
1. Normative Ethical Theorizing as an Explanatory Project
2. How Should We Choose between Competing Explanatory Stories?
3. Against Monism
4. Against Rossian Pluralism
5. Non-Rossian Pluralism
6. The Question of Scope, Part I: Distributive Moral Concerns
7. The Question of Scope, Part II: Non-Distributive Moral Concerns
8. Doing Harm and Failing to Rescue
9. The Distribution of Health Care Resources