Morality, Leadership, and Public Policy: On Experimentalism in Ethics

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In Morality, Leadership, and Public Policy, Eric Weber argues for an experimentalist approach to moral theory in addressing practical problems in public policy. The experimentalist approach begins moral inquiry by examining public problems and then makes use of the tools of philosophy and intelligent inquiry to alleviate them. Part I surveys the uses of practical philosophy and answers criticisms - including religious challenges - of the approach, presenting a number of areas in which philosophers' intellectual efforts can prove valuable for resolving public conflicts. Part II presents a new approach to experimentalism in moral theory, based on the insights of John Dewey's pragmatism. Focusing on the elements of good public inquiry and the experimentalist attitude, Weber discusses ways of thinking about the effective construction and reconstruction of particular problems, including practical problems of public policy prioritization. Finally, in Part III the book examines real-world examples in which the experimentalist approach to ethics proves useful, including instances of bandwidth theft and the controversies surrounding activist judges in the US Supreme Court.