Malcolm Murray is launching his latest philosophy book “Morals and Consent: Contractarian Solutions to Ethical Woes’’ at the Confederation Centre’s art gallery on Friday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
The public is invited to drop by for a brief reading, a question-and-answer period, book signing and refreshments.
Murray tackles questions such as how are we meant to behave and how are we meant to defend whatever answer we give. The book is designed to ground the notion of morality in natural evolution and, from that basis, the author shows why contractarianism is a far more viable moral theory than is widely believed.
The scope of “Morals and Consent’’ is divided into two parts, theory and application.
In his discussion of theory, Murray defends contractarianism by appealing to evolutionary game theory and metaethical analyses. His main argument is that people are not going to find morality as an objective fact in the world and that instead people can understand morality as a reciprocal co-operative trait. From this minimal moral architecture, Murray derives his innovative consent principle.
The application of the theory, detailing what contractarians are, or ought to, say about moral matters, takes up the greater portion of the work. Murray offers a trenchant examination of what moral constraints people can claim concerning death (abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment), sex (pornography, prostitution, sexual assault), beneficence (toward present and future people, animals and the environment) and liberty (genetic enhancement, organ sales and torture).
“Morals and Consent’’ will change the field of applied ethics, an amazing and significant feat in an area of research that is already crowded,’’ says Susan Dimock of York University. “There is quite literally no other book like this, and Malcolm Murray’s will be the position to respond to. Authors wishing to defend alternative theories in applied ethics will have to answer his many challenges to their theories.”