How can we be moral when we are so irrational?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Normative ethics usually presupposes background accounts of human agency, and although different ethical theorists might have different pictures of human agency in mind, there is still something like a standard account that most of mainstream normative ethics can be understood to rest on. Ethical theorists tend to have Rational Man, or at least some close relative to him, in mind when constructing normative theories. It will be argued here that empirical fndings raise doubts about the accuracy of this kind of account; human beings fall too far short of ideals of rationality for it to be meaningful to devise normative ideals within such a framework. Instead, it is suggested, normative ethics could be conducted more proftably if the idea of unifying all ethical concerns into one theoretical account is abandoned. Such a disunity of ethical theorizing would then match the disunited and heuristic-oriented nature of our agency. Some preliminary suggestions about what ethical theorizing might look like instead are provided here along with some remarks about how these relate to other approaches in the literature.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Medical Ethics


  • moral, irrationality
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-126
JournalLogique et Analyse
Issue number221
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch