Practical Philosophy Webinar: Espen Dyrnes Stabell
"Conceptual Engineering and Applied Ethics"
Conceptual engineering involves improving concepts for social or epistemic purposes. Should applied ethicists engage in conceptual engineering? Three possibilities are explored: that applied ethics (AE) should never involve conceptual engineering (CE); that AE should always involve CE; and that AE should sometimes, or under certain circumstances, involve CE. It is argued that there is reason for AE to engage in CE when concepts are ‘defective’ in the sense of being counterproductive with regard to social aims – such as welfare promotion and social justice – or ethically relevant epistemic aims, such as achieving a better understanding of a socially or morally relevant phenomenon. However, even if concepts can be defective in this way, it might be very difficult to identify and ameliorate defective concepts in the context of applied ethics. I suggest a strategy that can be employed in at least some core cases of applied ethics.
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