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Alan Nelson

This resonates with the very famous article by (my colleague!) Susan Wolf: "Moral Saints" and some of her more recent work. The very basic idea is that an ultra strict moralist would not be the most admirable kind of person.

On the other hand, I am impressed by how EASY it is to be strictly vegan once the old habits are overcome.

Eric Schliesser

Yes, I should have mentioned that being a vegetarian does not generate hardships (which is one of the reasons that I find the arguments compelling).

And thank you for reminding me of Wolf's work (the second such reminder during last two weeks--I suppose I should re-read soon).

Eric Schwitzgebel

I'm working on some similar thoughts in connection with Josh Rust's and my finding that ethicists tend to say it's bad to eat meat and yet tend to do so at about the same rate as do other professors. I thinking about "aiming for moral mediocrity" in this context. Not only do people not want to be saints, it seems, they (including professional ethicists) don't even want to be better than their neighbors. And maybe that's okay?

Eric Schliesser

Yes, Eric, I really like and follow with interest the research you (and Rust) are doing on the mis-match (or not) between what theorists's legislate for others and their own activity. (I know that's not how you think about it, but that's how I slot it into my reflections on analytical egalitarianism). I also think it's potentially important fact that folk don't want to be better than their neighbors morally. I think it is an open question why this is so--I doubt it is a universal fact of human life. For humans are also status-seekers and vain (and show offs). So, rather, i would prefer learning more about what it is about our culture, education, institutions, etc. that generate these patterns of behavior.
So, I am, however, less keen on following you (and John Doris, I suppose) on embracing a kind of moral mediocrity based on statistical/empirical average behavior. This generates a status quo bias that I find profoundly un-philosophical and also troubling (morally/politically). But I do grant that such findings ought influence our theorizing and, perhaps, indirectly our behavior.

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


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