Moral Philosophy--like most things--is best understood in the context in which it occurs, or from which it emerges, or in the context in which it is presented by the moral philosopher. Sometimes these contexts are synthetic, sometimes they emerge through some process of thought, or sometimes they are set forth in a book and just "are". Anyway, we can discuss these preliminaries on another occasion. Here's the point I wish to make today:
Moral philosophy is conventionally contextualized as a "second step" in a three point process, which looks something like this:
1. Metaphysical beliefs, "curious" assumptions about logic, and/or a theory of human nature.
2. Moral philosophy, ethical beliefs, or an "ethical system".3. Political philosophy.
The way these relationships are often presented enhances the "idea" that #1 gives rise to #2, and that #2 gives rise to #3. It is possible, however, to see that the entire structure or scheme is rather driven by politics; that is, instead of being driven by metaphysical beliefs, outlandish claims for logical process and reason, or some theory of human nature, rather it is some political philosophy that drives what the philosopher is claiming, hence:
1. Political philosophy.
2. Moral philosophy, ethical beliefs, or an "ethical system".
3. Metaphysical beliefs, "curious" assumptions about logic, and/or a theory of human nature.
That is, the moral philosopher has some political or institutional agenda; and in order to support that agenda it is necessary to convince people to behave in certain ways, hence a moral philosophy; and to give legitimacy to that "moral philosophy" it is necessary to present a dazzling "logical contraption" that somehow resembles Mesopotamian law-giving, and/or present a potted anthropological assumption that somehow resembles "scientific truth". Tomorrow we'll continue the discussion and run through some examples.