The poverty of (moral) philosophy: Towards an empirical and pragmatic ethics

Marcus Morgan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This article makes both a more general and a more specific argument, and while the latter relies upon the former, the inverse does not apply. The more general argument proposes that empirical disciplines such as sociology are better suited to the production of ethical knowledge than more characteristically abstract and legalistic disciplines such as philosophy and theology. The more specific argument, which is made through a critique of Bauman's Levinasian articulation of ethics, proposes what it calls 'pragmatic humanism' as a viable alternative model for sociological ethics to follow. This model rejects the abstract notion of some innate and universally distributed moral impulse, and instead turns to acknowledgement of the precariousness of life as a strategic resource in the construction, rather than revelation, of ethical solidarity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-146
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Theory
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Bauman
  • humanism
  • Levinas
  • pragmatism
  • sociological ethics


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