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Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


E thics, philosophy of language Also called contextual relativism, a position in both ethics and the philosophy of language that claims that various sorts of contexts should be taken into account when we consider a moral position or the meaning of a term. Both ethical contextualism and linguistic contextualism are directed against formalism , which claims that we can establish a set of abstract moral principles that have universal application without regard to particular situations (ethical formalism) or that we may determine the meaning of a statement through the study of its logical structure (linguistic formalism). Ethical contextualism holds that we cannot deal with ethical problems in detachment from the particular practical situations in which the problems arise. Instead, ethics should be concerned with ethical problems in given contexts. Historically, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hume , and Hegel are considered to be contextualists to some degree. In the twentieth century, influenced by pragmatism and logical positivism , contextualism has been used specifically for the view that in any given context there are always some ethical premises that are themselves unquestioned, although they may be questioned in another context. These premises, conjoined with the result of common experience or science, can lead to a suitable resolution of the problems that arise in that context. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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