Aiming for Moral Mediocrity

Eric Schwitzgebel

Res Philosophica 96 (2019), 347-368

Abstract: Most people aim to be about as morally good as their peers, not especially better, not especially worse. We do not aim to be good, or non-bad, or to act permissibly rather than impermissibly, by fixed moral standards. Rather, we notice the typical behavior of our peers, then calibrate toward so-so. This is a somewhat bad way to be, but it's not a terribly bad way to be. We are somewhat morally criticizable for having low moral ambitions. Typical arguments defending the moral acceptability of low moral ambitions - the So-What-If-I'm-Not-a-Saint Excuse, the Fairness Argument, the Happy Coincidence Defense, and the claim that you're already in The-Most-You-Can-Do Sweet Spot - do not withstand critical scrutiny.

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