Below I have posted a card I saw read in a debate as an answer to deontology. I don’t want to taint discussion so I won’t say what I thought about it yet, but I am interested to see what other people might think in terms of is this a good card, is the argument it makes useful/relevant to morality issues as they are debated in policy (death vs some other value) , and what you would rate it sort of 1-10, 10 being Khalilzad 95.
Stelzig 98 – B.A (Tim, March, “COMMENT: DEONTOLOGY, GOVERNMENTAL ACTION, AND THE DISTRIBUTIVE EXEMPTION: HOW THE TROLLEY PROBLEM SHAPES THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RIGHTS AND POLICY”, 146 U. Pa. L. Rev. 901, Lexis Law, S)
Take first the epistemological problem. Every view of morality must ultimately give some account of how it is that we come to know what is right. An otherwise impressive moral metaphysics is pointless if epistemologically implausible. 103 With general norms, it is plausible that we may come to learn them gradually, refining our understanding through practice. Naturalistically learning through practice, however, is foreclosed to one who sees deontology as both pervasive and particularist. Almost every situation is morally different from the rest, even if only slightly so. If deontology is exhaustive of morality, there must be a separate injunction for each situation. The epistemological [*922] problem is that learning an essentially infinite number of separate rules to govern our conduct is implausible. It initially might be thought that the epistemological problem could be overcome by allowing generality within the specific norms, thus making it possible for the student of morality to learn these general principles and then derive the specific deontological prohibitions from them. The trouble with this response is that the important theoretic work is performed by the underlying principles by which the specific deontological maxims can be learned. This is problematic because theoretic entities are abstract. As such, Ockham’s Razor 104 and the principles of pragmatism 105 dictate that we do better to recognize conceptually the general principles. There is no logical inconsistency in positing a deontological norm for every morally distinct situation. But if pervasive, deontological maxims would be superfluous. Thus, it is theoretically preferable to deny them this exclusivity. 106 Suppose the epistemological problem can be skirted by allowing that some theoretically benign generality informs our moral understanding. If deontology may be exhaustive without being particularist, then a separate objection, the conflicts problem, arises. As was true of the epistemological problem, the conflicts problem arises because morality has something to say about almost everything. Because the world is complex, if rights are general, then the evaluation of most morally interesting situations will either depend on more than one rights claim or on some other moral element, each problematic for the claim that deontology is exhaustive of morality. The reason is structural. Our moral intuitions are highly nuanced – often minor changes to a factual situation alter the normative evaluation of that situation. But since a limited number of general norms, because they are general, cannot account for this contextual sensitiv [*923] ity, some other explanation must be offered. Positing a greater number of more specific deontological norms could account for this factual sensitivity. Doing so, however, threatens to reincarnate the epistemological problem. If our norms are relatively few in number, thereby putting them within our epistemic reach, either many norms will apply to each situation to give us the contextual sensitivity that is evident, or some other principles must be at work.