Förhållandet mellan praxis och teori inom etiken
Sammanfattning: The main question of this thesis is if a practice is right because it is prescribed by an ethical theory, or if an ethical theory is right because it follows from certain practices? I propose the following definitions to illustrate the main alternatives: (1) if a practice is determined by an ethical theory and the ethical theory is not determined by practice, it is possible to speak of a top-down model of ethical thinking. (2) If a theory, conversely, is determined by a practice and the practice is not determined by theory, it can be described as a bottom-up model. (3) If a practice is used in order to determine an ethical theory, which in turn can be used to assess new practical situations in a constantly evolving process, it can be labelled an interaction model. (4) Finally, it is possible that certain practices are the basis of morality, and do not need to be systemized in any ethical theory.
The focus of this study is on alternatives (2), (3) and (4) where practice is given due weight and is characterized by a rejection of a strictly theoretical approach to ethics. I address representatives from some of the most influential alternatives such as: (2) Albert R Jonsen & Stephen Toulmin (casuistry), (3) Jürgen Habermas (discourse ethics), Alasdair MacIntyre (virtue ethics), Jonathan Haidt (experimental ethics) and (4) John Dewey, Hilary Putnam and Richard Rorty (pragmatism). I also discuss how some prominent theologians, such as Stanley Hauerwas (Christian virtue ethics) and James Gustafson (theocentric ethics), deal with similar questions. The purpose of this study is therefore to identify various positions represented in the debate, and to examine which consequences they have for how decisions are made and justified within an ethical framework.
I argue that the strength of models that include practical concerns in ethical thinking is that they can contribute to our understanding of why ideals, norms and values differ between various social spheres, and how they change over time. Instead of taking the traditional position, where a basic assumption about the nature of moral questions is crucial to identify a reliable approach, it is possible to assess which approaches give reliable results and use these to identify the factors relevant to answer moral questions. I identify two main alternatives: a paradigmatic and a discursive way of treating moral issues. They address various aspects of human life and action, which means that they do not exclude, but rather enrich each other in the context of an overall debate. It seems possible that both types of studies can provide reasons for performing an action or accepting a theory, which can then be revised and give rise to new positions. From such a perspective, neither the image of man and the world, nor our standards, ideals and values are necessarily static, but can be revised and reconsidered within the context of a changing social, cultural and historical context.
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