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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 1, 1999

Ethics

Alasdair MacIntyre
Pages 1-8

Moral Pluralism Without Moral Relativism

When we deny the truth of someone else’s moral beliefs and give our grounds for so doing, we make or imply judgments about the inadequacy of their reasons for belief and about the causes of their belief. And we presuppose a difference between them and us in both respects. In so doing we provide matter for a shared philosophical inquiry about the relevant types of reason and cause. It is a mark of rational disagreement on matters of serious moral import that we who so disagree should be prepared to engage in this inquiry and to recognize its standards as binding on us unqualifiedly. This recognition commits us to a denial of moral relativism. Some of these best examples of rational disagreement are found in some, although only some, of the exchanges between medieval Islamic, Jewish and Christian philosophers.

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