Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Question Regarding Common Morality

Philip Stratton-Lake, in a review of Bernard Gert’s Common Morality: Deciding What to Do, writes: "In this book Bernard Gert aims to describe and justify common morality. Common morality, as he understands it, is the moral system that most thoughtful people implicitly use in arriving at moral judgements. According to Gert this system is based on five basic harms -- death, pain, disability, loss of freedom, loss of pleasure. From these five harms we get ten moral rules that capture the core of common morality: 1. Do not kill 2. Do not cause pain, 3. Do not disable, 4. Do not deprive of freedom, 5. Do not deprive of pleasure, 6. Do not deceive, 7. Keep your promises, 8. Do not cheat, 9. Obey the law, and 10. Do your duty. The first five rules prohibit inflicting the five basic harms directly, whereas the second five prohibit actions that cause those same harms indirectly. So the first five rules are basic, and the second five derivative (although Gert does not describe them in this way)."

Is there, really, anything more to ethics?

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