Moral Philosophy’s Moral Risk

Commonsense moral thinking holds that people have doxastic, contemplative, and expressive duties, that is, duties to or not to believe, seriously consider, and express certain ideas. This paper argues that moral and political philosophers face a high risk of violating any such duties, both because of the sensitivity and difficult of the subject matter, and because of various pernicious biases and influences philosophers face. We argue this leads to a dilemma, which we will not try to solve. Either philosophers should reduce their risk by avoiding sensitive issues where they are likely to violate such duties or, for one reason or another, philosophers are to some degree exempt from such duties when doing their work. Either horn of the dilemma, we argue, has unpalatable implications.