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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 44, Issue 4, October 2018

Nigel Pleasants
Pages 567-592

The Structure of Moral Revolutions

In the recent and not-too-distant past many of our parents, grandparents and forbears believed that a person’s skin colour and physiognomy, gender, or sexuality licensed them being regarded and treated in ways that are now widely recognised as blatantly unjust, disrespectful, cruel and brutal. But the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries have hosted a series of radical changes in attitudes, beliefs, behaviour and institutionalised practices with regard to the fundamental moral equality of what were once seen as different “kinds of people.” This paper explores the social structure of such “moral revolutions,” via the Wittgensteinian- and Kuhnian- inspired concepts moral perception, moral certainty, normal morality, and moral paradigm.

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