Reason and Moral Relativity

  • George Shelton


I have tried to show that Hobbesian morality is an attempt to answer the questions of someone who wants reasons for accepting moral rules. If these questions are not asked then there will be no need to offer a rational justification of ethics. Most people act on the basis of habit or custom and it rarely occurs to them to question the authority of the rules by which they live. For those who do, Hobbes offers a rational basis for morality built on a theory of human motivation and the use of elementary logic. There have, of course, been other attempts to establish a rational foundation for ethics including that of Kant, which was examined above. A recent example of this approach is Alan Gewirth’s Reason and Morality.1 It is an exhaustive exposition and defense of his supreme moral principle, the Principle of Generic Consistency or PGC, a topic which he has also discussed in a number of journal articles.2


Social Contract Moral Theory Moral Belief Golden Rule Moral Rule 
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  1. 3.
    Alan Gewirth, ‘The Golden Rule Rationalized,’ Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol. III (Minneapolis, 1980), p. 140.Google Scholar

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© George Shelton 1992

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  • George Shelton

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