Suppose both the political and the social depend upon ethical thinking. Then they rest upon thinking found in mutualistic work yielding life-integrating judgments and articulations of values, as well as accountability relations that form a space for this work and the testing of it. Ethical thinking sustains the social in generating and testing reasons and saliencies. What are the details? The discussion sets aside a number of leading alternatives: seeking the source of reasons in retributive relations which define a space where responsible agents look for past compliance instead of future collaboration; seeking the source in nihilistic thought leading to chaos in social systems and leaving no explanation for an ethic; turning to relativism in ethics where only the speaker or the speaker’s group counts as a legitimate source of reasons for action but where there is no explanation of the choice of any particular reference point; relying on self-interested thinking which is no better than a form of relativism; or appealing to any of a number of principles without clear personal attachment leaving deductive systems notoriously removed from incorporating personal salience. Mutuality and an account of what I call the ontogeny of ethical reasons instead plausibly generate ethics while founding and sustaining social relations. Such mutuality allows reasons to arise personally, to be recognized by others while being articulated, and to either gain or lose legitimacy within various spaces of accountability relations. Such reasons will avoid the difficulties just mentioned. Thus the suggestion: the feature of ethics enabling the social and political to endure is a capacity for being part of the ontogeny of reasons, a capacity for personally founding and discovering reasoning, or for helping articulate and test these personal reasons in accountability relations.
|Keywords:||Ethics, Ethical, Mutualistic, Articulations of Reasons, Reasons, Personal Reasons, Articulations of Values, Accountability Relations, Personal Salience, Ontogeny of Ethical Reasons|
Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA
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