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Ragnar Francén

Abstract

Whenever A judges that x-ing is morally wrong and B judges that x-ing is not morally wrong, we think that they disagree. The two standard types of accounts of such moral disagreements both presuppose that the class of moral wrong-judgments is uniform, though in different ways. According to the belief account, the disagreement is doxastic: A and B have beliefs with conflicting cognitive contents. This presupposes “belief-uniformity”: that the content of moral concepts is invariant in such a way that, whenever A believes that x-ing is morally wrong and B believes that x-ing is not morally wrong, their beliefs have mutually inconsistent contents. According to the attitude account, moral disagreements are non-doxastic: A and B have clashing practical attitudes. This presupposes “attitude-uniformity”: that moral judgments are always accompanied by, or consist of, desire-like attitudes. Consequently, neither account is available if both uniformity-claims are rejected – as e.g., various forms of content-relativism do. This paper presents a new non-doxastic account of deontic moral disagreement, consistent with the rejection of both uniformity-claims. I argue first, that even if deontic moral judgments are not desires, and are not always accompanied by desires, they have practical direction in the same sense as desires: they are attitudes that one can act in accordance or discordance with. Second: deontic moral disagreement can be understood as clashes in practical direction: roughly, A and B morally disagree if, and only if, some way of acting is in accordance with A’s judgment but in discordance with B’s.

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