Volume 19, 1994
James D. Wallace
Morality, Practical Knowledge, and Will
In Quandaries and Virtues, Edmund Pincoffs maintains that we observe a multiplicity of moral norms. A common life in which we participate supplies a context in which many virtues play diverse functional roles. He suggests, without developing the idea, that such a common life provides us with a structure for organizing and harmonizing the many moral norms we attempt to pursue. This essay explores that idea. Bodies of shared practical knowledge, such as medicine and scientific research, provide examples of empirically grounded practices in which people simultaneously observe a plurality of norms that guide them in right practice. The essay develops the idea that morality is in important ways Iike these bodies of technical practical knowledge. It maintains that the origin and source of authority of moral norms is appreciably Iike that of technical norms and that the motivation for observing such norms is fundamentaIly similar.