Geography and ethics: a moral turn? (Smith 1997) (Meta-ethics: a place for…
Geography and ethics: a moral turn? (Smith 1997)
A new disciplinary Interface
Indications of a moral turn, 1991 conference of the Institute of British Geographers and 1994 meeting of the Association of American Geographers
Social justice has returned to the geographical agenda
Been debates on aspects of professional ethics
In geography-a continuing thread of social awareness with a critical edge
However references to a geographical perspective in ethics texts are so rare
Ethics or moral philosophy both refer to the systematic study of ethical or moral thought and conduct
Meta- ethics: what it means to do or think ethics, normative ethics: proposed solutions to moral problems, descriptive ethics: identifies actual moral beliefs and practices
Meta-ethics: a place for difference?
Concerns questions, which would be helpful to resolve or consider before solutions are proposed for particular moral problems
Concerns the meanings of terms right or wrong, good and bad, ought or should
Concerns what moral argument is about
Many conflicting positions amongst philosophers on the meaning of true morality
How might geographers engage with this diversity? Tension between universalism and relativism. Descriptive ethical relativism is true, normative ethical relativism is contentious.
the question of how judgements can be `made geographically' (Billington, 1993: 38), i.e., among different ideas about how to behave held in one place as opposed to another.
Or we can accept grand moral values and recognise the spatial and temporal particularity of their application
This kind of distinction points to an important role for the geographer. This is to take up where most philosophers leave off: to examine the contextual thickening of moral concepts in the particular (local) circumstances of differentiated human being. And this requires neither the abandonment of the entire Enlightenment philosophical heritage, nor the complete embrace of postmodernism.
Descriptive ethics: beyond moral geographies
The term `moral geographies' has emerged in recent years as a rubric for empirical investigations into various aspects of spatial patterns and relations which invite a moral reading. These studies could be regarded as geographical exercises in descriptive ethics
Moral assumptions are bound up with the socia construction of different groups, who is included and excluded, and so on: `spatial variations in everyday moralities will inevitably be closely entangled with spatial variations in the
functioning'' of human groupings'.