project . 2019 - 2024 . On going


The Enemy of the Good: Towards a Theory of Moral Progress
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European Commission
Funder: European CommissionProject code: 851043 Call for proposal: ERC-2019-STG
Funded under: H2020 | ERC | ERC-STG Overall Budget: 1,500,000 EURFunder Contribution: 1,500,000 EUR
Status: On going
01 Nov 2019 (Started) 31 Oct 2024 (Ending)

According to the currently dominant account of moral progress, the story of moral progress goes something like this: once, moral recognition used to be the privilege of a select few. Full moral status was only accorded to people of a certain class, age, gender, ethnicity, or religion. Over time, the moral franchise was gradually extended, however imperfectly, to include human beings of all races, creeds, or genders. Eventually, even species membership is recognized as morally irrelevant, and the moral circle is extended towards non-human animals as well. Many influential ethicists call this the “expanding circle” of moral concern. Moral progress, on this account, consists in further expansions of the moral realm beyond ethically arbitrary features. This account, however, faces a serious feasibility problem: our moral concern is limited due to features of our evolved psychology. Empathy is parochial; altruism remains tied to friends and kin. This project will develop an alternative theory of moral progress. By focusing on different forms of moral progress other than the expanding circle, different moral attitudes which are not subject to the same evolutionary constraints, and smart institutions that can bypass the limits of our inherited psychology, it will be shown that the prospects of moral progress have been severely underestimated.

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