Volume 11, 2001
Social and Political Philosophy
Daniel O. Dahlstrom
Love, Honor, and Resentment
For much of contemporary ethical theory, the universalizability of the motive of a contemplated action forms a necessary part of the basis of the action’s moral character, legitimacy, or worth. Considering the possibility of resentment springing from the performance of an action also serves as a means of determining the morality of an action. However, considerations of universalizability and resentment are plainly inconsistent with the performance of some unselfish moral actions. I argue that the sphere of the moral adequacy of considerations of universalizability and resentment is limited. I profile key elements of “conformist” or “consensus-driven” ethical thinking modelled on Nagel’s ethical theory. Then, I elaborate the measure of validity of the profiled ethical thinking as well as its limitation, suggesting that its proper domain is located in an ethics of honor, delimited by an ethics of love and friendship.