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ABSTRACT. A system of morals aims at providing guidance in the resolution of moral conflict. Our era is characterized by widely disparate personal and cultural values and, hence, significant moral pluralism. Thus, different social and historical cultures regard different actions as permissible or impermissible. We contend that a contemporary moral epistemology is not based on absolute moral facts, but neither is it simply relative to our own cultural mores. It is somewhere “in between.” Given our disparate ethical perspectives, we need a means of approaching morally dilemmatic situations. Appeals to a common morality constitute one such means. Another is via moral dialogue amongst those affected by the situation in question. We examine certain paradigm cases which, from the standpoint of most moralities, would be considered absolutely wrong-actions. We ask whether the setting of apparently wrong actions in context can serve to mitigate an apparently evil act, or the actor herself. If we are to peacefully coexist, and indeed flourish, then we need to dialogue about our disparate beliefs, understand them in context, and aim to reach consensual agreement about what is right and not right, permissible or impermissible. The requirements and difficulties in such a process of moral argumentation seeking dialogic consensus, and hence normative force, are considered.

Keywords: argumentation; dialogic consensus; discourse; ethics; moral pluralism; moral decision-making

How to cite: Walker, Paul, and Terence Lovat (2018). “In a World Characterized by Moral Pluralism, Is Dialogic Consensus a Way to Establish Moral Truth?,” Review of Contemporary Philosophy 17: 43–55.

Received 9 February 2018 • Received in revised form 12 March 2018
Accepted 13 March 2018 • Available online 29 March 2018

doi:10.22381/RCP1720184

PAUL WALKER
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Faculty of Health and Medicine,
The University of Newcastle, Australia
(corresponding author)
TERENCE LOVAT
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The School of Humanities and Social Science,
The University of Newcastle, Australia;
Oxford University, UK

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