chapter
7 Pages

Introduction

So my starting point is that we each have moral beliefs, indeed, quite a large number of moral beliefs. Simply having these beliefs is not the end of the matter. Just as it is natural to have further questions when we have beliefs about other matters, it is natural to ask further questions about the moral realm. Thus, for example, believing various apparently dissimilar actions to be wrong, I wish to find out whether these wrong actions have something else in common, or, more generally, I wonder what, if anything, makes actions wrong. Unlike the questions we ask about some other things, questions about the moral realm are often motivated by more than curiosity. For one thing, we sometimes rely upon our moral beliefs to guide our actions, and characteristically, those of our actions that we see as specially significant. And it seems plausible to suppose that knowing what makes right actions right, or good things good, will help us to tell more easily what we should do in actual practice. In addition, many of us find that our moral beliefs are not in terribly good order: There are tensions, and often conflicts among them. The situation only seems worse when we consider the connections between our moral beliefs and other beliefs we hold, e.g., beliefs in sociological or psychological explanations of our moral beliefs. To sum up, although moral beliefs are especially significant for many of us, they do not go far enough, while still managing to get into trouble going only as far as they do.