Philosopher’s Cave—The Vice of Abstract Moral Reasoning
Dr. Hsin-wen Lee, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Public Policy, City University of Hong Kong
4:30 – 6:30 pm
To defend their theory of punishment, many retributivists adopt the Rawlsian method of ideal/nonideal theory. They first defend their theory under ideal hypothetical conditions and then go on to consider how the theory can be implemented under nonideal circumstances. I argue that that this two-step interpretation is mistaken. Rawls’s method is a two-way method, not a two-step one. The difference is, the former allows facts and common sense to play a role in determining the moral value of a theory, but the latter dogmatically prioritizes abstract moral theorizing and preclude the input of factual evidence and common-sense judgment.