Should we judge those guilty of dubious moral thinking from other ages?


Everybody thinks they know what’s right and wrong. But will things that seem moral today be deemed completely immoral later, asks David Edmonds.

“Women should leave reasoning to men. And they are not fit for serious employment.” This was the views of one of the most influential philosophers who lived in the eighteenth century. Should we trust his thinking when we know he had such deplorable views on the abilities of women?

The philosopher Miranda Fricker thinks that in the not-too-distant future we’ll be shocked by the way that we, in the early part of the 21st Century, still treat animals. “I hope that some of the ways we currently still treat animals, the way that we factory-farm them, for instance, will seem completely unbelievable and unacceptable.”

When our descendants look back to the 21st century what other human attitudes and behaviours will seem morally unacceptable?

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