Slavery is immoral. There’s no debate about it these days. But Americans didn’t always think that way. The morality of slavery was a hotly contested issue in the 18th and 19th centuries. So how did we get from the point where preachers praised slavery in their sermons to today when no one would ever publicly question the wrongness of slavery? Shifts in moral thinking like this come about during a process called moral inquiry. On today’s show, we hear from the philosopher Elizabeth Anderson, who argues that the way people went about moral inquiry over two hundred years ago holds important lessons for how we ought to face questions of morality today.
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Click here for the episode’s transcript!
- Elizabeth Anderson
- 19th-century arguments for the morality of slavery
- A priori
- Thought experiments
- Nicolas Condorcet, Réflexions sur l’esclavage des Nègres (1781)
- Elizabeth Anderson on moral bias
- John Dewey
- George Fitzhugh’s argument that slaves in the South were better off than workers in the North
- Slave testimonies
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