Do our moral judgments need to be guided by principles?

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Do our moral judgments need to be guided by principles?

Cambridge University Press
  • 340 Law
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NimbusSanL-Bold Zurich Open Repository and Archive University of Zurich Main Library Winterthurerstrasse 190 CH-8057 Zurich Year: 2012 Do our moral judgments need to be guided by principles? Roberto Andorno Posted at the Zurich Open Repository and Archive, University of Zurich Originally published at: Andorno, Roberto (2012). Do our moral judgments need to be guided by principles? Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 21(4):457-465, Cam bridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 2012, vol. 21, n° 4, p. 457-465. Special Section: Empirical Ethics Do Our Moral Judgem ents Need to Be Guided by Principles? ROBERTO ANDORNO In tro ductio n “At Hom e” is a short story by Anton Chekhov about a lawyer, Eugene Bikovsky, who tries to explain to his seven year-old son, Seriozha, why he did wrong by taking a cigarette from his desk and by smoking it.1 The story begins with Bikovsky coming home from a session at the court, and with the governess telling him about his son’s wrongdoing. Seriozha is a frail and innocent child; he admires and loves his father; he is entrusted to the care of a governess since the lost of his mother. Bikovsky wonders what to tell his son, but before he had time to think of anything to say, Seriozha has already entered the study. “’Good evening, papa,’ he says in a gentle voice, climbing on to his father’s knee and swiftly kissing his neck. ‘Did you send for me?” When they began to talk, Bikovsky finds that his son is not at all aware that he has committed any fault. The lawyer first appeals to pure rationality; he tries to explain to the child the conceptual distinction between m eum and tuum in property law, and why it is wrong to take things that belong to others. But Seriozha has a world of his own in his mind and pays little attention to his father’s ab

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