Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xiv

This ethics book is unique. Its content is different and distinctive. It is not about the moral theories that are taught in philosophy courses and written about in philosophy journals. (We use “ethics” and “morality” interchangeably.) Moral theories are comprised of principles, and moral reasoning is taken to consist of applying those principles to the facts of problems to deduce right answers. The descriptions of problems are brief, and the resolutions that are logically derived are necessary, certain, and universal. That theoretical depiction of ethics is attractive, but it is too...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvi

Excerpts and/or adaptations from five articles that we have published in journals appear in this book. In chapter 1 an example from a publication in Bioethics (Hoffmaster and Hooker 2009) that shows how women decide whether to try to get pregnant after receiving genetic counseling is used to appreciate what real ethical decision making is. In chapters 3 and 4 an extended publication in Axiomathes (Hooker 2010) is used to develop a critique of logic-based rationality (chapter 3) and an alternative account of nonformal reason (chapter 4). Chapter 5 presents an article from the...

I Ethics and Reason

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1 Introduction

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pp. 3-22

What is “re-reasoning ethics”? Re-reasoning ethics is about developing and defending a conception of rationality for ethics that is expansive, flexible, and effectual. It is independent of deductive reasoning, a paradigm of rationality that dominates principle-based moral philosophy. The conclusion of a deduction is necessary, certain, and universal, and those are the features that propagate the universalizability that orthodox moral philosophy demands of ethics. In moral philosophy ethics cannot be contingent, subjective, or relative. If it is wrong for a teacher to criticize a student in front...

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2 The Difficulties of Applied Ethics

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pp. 23-48

Bioethics, like its counterparts in the ethics of law, business, engineering, journalism, and other domains, generally has been regarded as applied ethics. In the first edition of their influential text, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, Tom Beauchamp and James Childress promulgated this view by characterizing bioethics as “the application of general ethical theories, principles, and rules to problems of therapeutic practice, health care delivery, and medical and biological research” (1979: vi–vii). Over six subsequent editions, Beauchamp and Childress have refined and embellished their method in response...

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3 The Problems Generalized, Diagnosed, and Reframed in a New Account of Reason

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pp. 49-74

The widespread presumption in ethics is that moral reasoning is a matter of applying universal moral principles to the relevant descriptions of the particulars of situations and thereby deducing right decisions about what to do. The preceding chapters have presented the many practical and theoretical inadequacies in this depiction of ethics. What should the response to these serious defects be? Simply rejecting the model of applied ethics will not solve the problems. Doing that would leave the sources of the difficulties undiagnosed and provide no constructive alternative....

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4 The Problems Resolved in a New Account of Reason

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pp. 75-104

The discussions that culminate in chapter 3 are not purely critical; they also provide creative insights into the kind of account of rationality that is needed to rationalize the actual capacities for learning and problem solving that humans, with all their finitude and imperfections, in fact have. In this chapter we construct a broad, general account of rational processes; one that responds to the challenges and insights raised so far and that suffices for our purposes here, which concern ethics. Developing the relationship of the central core of this rationality with risk taking, reasoning in its various...

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5 The Process of Ethical Resolution: Using the Resources of Nonformal Reason

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pp. 105-136

Science and ethics are seamlessly, reflexively theoretical and practical. In the preceding chapters we showed how restricting rationality to formal reason produces distorted, divided, and inadequate accounts of the theoretical and practical dimensions of science and ethics. By avoiding the dichotomies that formal reason creates, nonformal reason integrates theory and practice and thereby provides unified understandings that elucidate and enhance the rationality of science and ethics. In the rest of the book, we develop a broader, more constructive account of ethics that is parallel to the...

II Ethics as Design

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6 Ethics as Design and Its Two Distinctive Methods

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pp. 139-168

Re-reasoning ethics begins with an enriched conception of rationality that fits our whole intelligence, not just our logic, and develops a correlatively more encompassing conception of ethics that fits our whole lives. Here we complete our account of how this new rationality re-reasons ethics by presenting Caroline Whitbeck’s (1996, 2011) explanation of how design in engineering can be brought to practical problems in ethics and by introducing two distinctive, fundamental methods for rationally designing resolutions of practical problems in ethics: constructing a fully engaged moral...

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7 Designing Deliberation

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pp. 169-192

A rational judgment results from a rational process of deliberation, and rational processes of deliberation are constructed, that is, they are designed. Designing deliberation requires rational judgment itself, though, because the endeavor is rife with uncertainty, complexity, and incommensurability. Those who are deliberating want to do what is right, but in a sense of “right” much richer than validity in logic or correctness in mathematics. Judgments that emanate from deliberation have to be right for, and right to, those who are deliberating, not right for everyone. Rational use of the...

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8 Designing Practices, Institutions, and Processes

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pp. 193-220

Much of morality is socially and culturally embedded. Practices and institutions embody recognized values and ideals of the societies and cultures within which they emerge, and more profoundly they are formed and shaped by background assumptions, values, and ideals so deep and expansive that they are invisible.1 The morality that infuses social acceptance of and participation in fundamental institutions such as school, law, health care, social media, entertainment, politics, and religious observance, and that supports diverse practices such as donating time and money to...

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9 Designing Policies

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pp. 221-248

Public policies of all sorts substantially affect our lives and our well-being, for example, the provision of health care, education, and child care, the control of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, the regulation of food, driving, and employment, and the availability of social services and recreational opportunities. For that reason designing policies is ethical design. The ethical import of policies of course varies—regulating the speeds and hours of truck driving is more consequential than organizing a bridge tournament—but all policies should produce goods ethically. Designing ethical policies is...

Notes

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pp. 249-276

References

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pp. 277-292

Index

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pp. 293-300