Can the Two-Level Moral Thinking Reconcile the Rivalry of Contextualism and Principled Ethics? A Conversation between Winkler and Hare 兩層道德思維是否可以化解脈絡主義與原則倫理間的對壘關係?——Winkler與Hare的對談

Wai-Ying Wong

There has been controversy between contextualism and principled ethics in metaethics in general and bioethics in particular. Contextualists attempt to solve moral problem by firstly working with particular cases in all of their contextual details and then by applying these results to other similar cases, whereas proponents of principled ethics try to apply the general normative ethical principles to particular cases. The former approach can be viewed as a “bottom-up” and the latter “top-down” way. As indicated by many moral philosophers, both of these approaches have shortcomings. By introducing the two levels of moral thinking, R.M. Hare argues that the two kinds of metaethical theories are not in real conflict. Contrarily, they both play important roles in our moral thinking, though at different levels. In this paper, I am going to examine to what extent, if ever, Hare’s attempt is successful, and furthermore, what are the steps that should be taken to remedy the deficiency, if any.


在後設倫理學以至生命倫理學上,一直存在著脈絡主義與原則倫理之爭辯。脈絡主義者解決道德問題的方式,是首先審視個別事件發生的脈絡細節,作出道德判斷後再將之用於其他相類事件;原則倫理者卻試圖將一般的道德原則應用於特殊事件上。前者可視為一種「自下而上」的方式,後者則可名為「自上而下」。很多道德哲學家都指出這兩種進路各有利弊。R.M. Hare藉著引介兩層道德思維結構,來論証上述二者其實並不矛盾,相反地,它們在不同的道德思維層面,分別扮演重要角色。在本文中,我嘗試檢視Hare的論証是否成立,又是否會在實踐上引生另外的問題。