The Micrometrics of Morals and the Macrotnetrics of Ethics


It is an established American tradition to belittle the study of morals and ethics—“Dry,” Jefferson said1; “subservient to experience,” argued Oliver Wendell Holmes.2 As for morals in practice, Robert Louis Stevenson said they should be “concealed like a vice.”3 And Henry Adams, in the same vein, observed that morals are a “private and costly luxury.”4 As one now reads the writings of early Puritans, the battle of sin and indulgence appears more like a lively duel than a matter of right and wrong. Cotton Mather writes, “The diseases of my soul are not cured until I arrive to the most unspotted Chastitie and Puritie.” However, he quickly exonerates himself by bracketing his sexual appetite for his third wife: “I do not apprehend that Heaven requires me uterlie to lay aside my fondness for my lovelie Consort.”5


Cooperative Strategy Nonprofit Sector Moral Claim Public Choice Theory Mountain Climbing 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1993

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