The dogma of the priority of private morality

Tom Sorell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article considers the relation between public and private morality as a stumbling block to a unified moral theory, and therefore as a source of skepticism about moral theory. It aims to show that some of the difficulties for theory in this area are a product of assuming that private morality has a certain priority over the public, and that moral life is unitary. These assumptions are questionable and perhaps question-begging. If they are dropped, the strength of the requirements of public morality increases, and utilitarianism and other impersonal theories appear less problematic as theories of public life, and of the relation between public and private life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-101
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Philosophical Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Cite this