Friendly combat over moral combat: A reply to my critics

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this piece, I respond to critics who maintain that moral combat is not only possible, but ubiquitous. In the view of some, morality is role-relative, and thus the unique package of reasons for action possessed by someone within a given role may dictate a course of conduct that thwarts the actions required of others who do not share that role. Other critics instead defend meta-ethical moral relativism, from which it follows that two people who hail from distinct cultures may both be right (relative to their separate “forms of life”) in thwarting the actions of the other. A third line of attack is mounted by critics who believe that certain first-order moral values are incommensurable and who thus argue that two people may both be blameless in pursuing incommensurably valuable but mutually incompatible goals at each other’s expense. As I argue, all three of these strategies fail to vindicate the claim that our best theory of morality tolerates gladiatorial encounters in which one person’s moral success necessitates another’s moral failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-172
Number of pages26
Issue number14
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Correspondence Thesis
  • Incommensurability
  • Moral Combat
  • Perspectivalism
  • Relativism
  • Role-Relative Reasons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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