Special issue: Ethics and Uncertainty

Until very recently, normative theorizing in ethics was frequently conducted without even mentioning uncertainty. Just a few years ago, Sven Ove Hansson described this state of affairs with the slogan: “Ethics still lives in a Newtonian world.” In the new Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Probability, David McCarthy writes that “mainstream moral philosophy has not been much concerned with probability”, understanding probability as “the best-known tool for thinking about uncertainty.” This special predilection for certainty in ethics was surprising since most decisions or evaluations are made both by individuals and policy-makers through the fog of a widely understood uncertainty that includes risk, ignorance, indeterminacy. Therefore, the main task of this special issue and international essay prize competition is to encourage philosophers to rethink the standard paradigm in ethics by redirecting discussions about ethical questions to problems involving different kinds of uncertainty when an individual or a policy-maker does not have access to or knowledge about (for example): the relevant facts, the consequences of decisions, the identity of people involved, other people’s or her own preferences and decisions, the individuation of actions, the ontological and moral status of some beings, the relevant normative doctrines or value scales etc. 

Published: 2017-10-04