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Common-sense ethics

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L011-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

‘Common-sense ethics’ refers to the pre-theoretical moral judgments of ordinary people. Moral philosophers have taken different attitudes towards the pre-theoretical judgments of ordinary people. For some they are the ‘facts’ which any successful moral theory must explain and justify, while for others the point of moral theory is to refine and improve them. ‘Common Sense ethics’ as a specific kind of moral theory was developed in Scotland during the latter part of the eighteenth century to counter what its proponents saw as the moral scepticism of David Hume. Thomas Reid, the main figure in this school, and his followers argued that moral knowledge and the motives to abide by it are within the reach of everyone. They believed that a plurality of basic self-evident moral principles is revealed by conscience to all mature moral agents. Conscience is an original and natural power of the human mind and this shows that God meant it to guide our will. A deeply Christian outlook underwrites their theory.

Citing this article:
Brown, Charlotte R.. Common-sense ethics, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L011-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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