Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2002

Department 1



It has become cliche to say that today's student are moral relativists. With the twin movements of ethics across the curriculum and critical thinking across the curriculum sweeping the Academy, one might think that we are in a good place to start making inroads towards creating careful and willing discussants of contemporary moral issues out of our students. Unfortunately, the reverse is far too often true. Associated with the standard sort of introduction to ethical theory, there is a regularly arising trap that brings with it the worst of all possible results - the alienation of our very best students from the topic of the course and the reinforcement of the most naive form of ethical subjectivism. The source of this alienation from the ethics course is identifiable by students who have taken the critical thinking course; it is the entrenched commitment to an oversimplified picture of moral deliberation which we justify through a specific version of false alternatives that I call the super-naturalistic fallacy. [excerpt]