Moral realism, moral expertise and paternalism
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In this essay I examine the notion of moral objectivity of moral properties. Moral objectivity seems to be able to resist the arguments of subjectivists. There seem to be true moral sentences and moral facts can explain actions and occurrences in the world. Values seem best accounted for in objective terms and persons can have interests or good independently of their desires. It seems to be reasonable to think of the nature of moral value in terms of consequences. Knowledge requires truth so the objectivity of moral properties makes moral knowledge possible. Moral knowledge should be accounted for in similar terms as other kinds of knowledge. The major requirement on moral knowledge is coherence. Moral expertise is both possible and plausible and so are moral experts. Paternalism is possible because our values can conflict: autonomy can conflict with general welfare. Paternalism is making someone do what is in his own interest. This seems best thought of in terms of the consequences for his good. The justification of paternalistic interventions seems best based on the weighing of the consequences of the intervention and the decision of the agent. One thing which must be taken into this weighing is the rationality of the decision of the agent. Rationality is basically thought of as the maximization of good. Autonomy is part of everyone's good. It can conflict with the agent's general or overall welfare. But the importance of autonomy for every agent creates a presumption against paternalism. But paternalism can maximize autonomy and paternalism can be justified to secure some minimal autonomy. So paternalism and autonomy seem to be compatible.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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