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TitleReaction & Debate: in Memoriam Derek Parfit (1942-2017)
Author(s)Colen, J. A.
KeywordsDerek Parfit
Moral objectivity
Issue date2018
JournalEthical Perspectives
Abstract(s)Derek Parfit’s books, Reasons and Persons and On What Matters are “landmarks” in contemporary moral theory. He aimed at showing that the best versions of Kantianism, Rule Consequentialism and Contractualism were climbing the same mountain from different sides and, despite appearances to the contrary, consensus and moral progress could be achieved. In order to do so, he became engaged in recharting the territory of non-religious ethics with compelling arguments suggesting a unified moral theory or his own Triple Theory. The real source of many disagreements were misunderstandings and flaws in the meta-ethics categories in use. Scholars in recent moral literature are, however, reluctant to believe in normative properties that are not part of the world of science. They are often proponents of what Parfit calls “naturalism,” “non-cognitivism,” or “subjectivism” and show major reservations or dismiss entirely Parfit’s claim that there are objective normative truths irreducible to the natural world. This survey of Parfit’s works, and the more recent literature about them, explores the application of his peculiar method of ethics and articulates the question that is at the root of this prevailing scepticism. Parfit never answers the question of how we can respond, or act moved by non-natural reasons. This paper claims that this is an important question and a missing supporting piece to Parfit’s triple theory.
Publisher version
AccessEmbargoed access (2 Years)
Appears in Collections:CEPS - Publicações dos investigadores do CEPS

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