Originally published in 1988, this book discusses if moral knowledge exists, and if so, if it is similar to other forms of knowledge. This book approaches the issues from both historical and contemporary perspectives and in order to determine whether there is a real property of rightness, looks to the ethical theories of Hobbes, Hume and Kant. This historical analysis leads to a systematic comparison of three theories of the nature of ethics: realism, emotivism and coherentism. The nature of coherence is explained using legal reasoning as a model. Moral reasoning is compared and contrasted with reasoning both in science and law, showing how ethics differs from science and empirical disciplines.
‘…a profound application of the view that ideas, whether scientific or moral, develop out of the historical context and social relations of their creation and use…. The book ought to be on the shelf of everyone interested in the next steps in our collective research in ethics, epistemology and social policy.’ Ann Ferguson, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
‘By incorporating the insights of contemporary sociological theory into philosophical and feminist ethics, Kathryn Addelson contributes powerfully to current critiques of individualism and professional authority.’ Laurie Shrage, Cal Poly Pomona
Introduction A: Knowledge B: Moral Knowledge C: Some Distinctions among Questions and Answers 1. Hobbes: Subjective Realism and Prudential Rationality 2. Hume: Subjectivism, Relational Properties and Utility 3. Kant: Objective Rationality and Obligation 4. Realism, Emotivism, Coherentism 5. Coherence, Moral Reasoning and Knowledge.