The Public Side of Morality

  • Mary Midgley


About the arts, this need for continuity may be fairly obvious. But we need to notice that it also holds for ideas and wider ways of living. Conceptual structures, too, are publicly shared, long-lasting things with a slow growth of their own. We can influence them—often much more than we know—but we cannot suddenly shatter them or suddenly invent new ones to our personal taste. They are much more like the forest in which we live our whole lives, or the ground on which we walk, than they are like toy houses that we can build and shatter at our whim. They therefore play a crucial part in shaping our knowledge, and they make it a much less chancy, less private, less arbitrary business than sceptics have often suggested. When we come to discuss questions about knowledge in chapter 17, this will prove important.


Conscientious Objector Personal Taste Individual Conscience Conscience Moralist Late Fashion 
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© Mary Midgley 1993

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  • Mary Midgley

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