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Living on a Slippery Slope

Hugh Lafollette
The Journal of Ethics
Vol. 9, No. 3/4, Devoted to James Rachels (2005), pp. 475-499
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25115837
Page Count: 25
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Living on a Slippery Slope
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Abstract

Our actions, individually and collectively, inevitably affect others, ourselves, and our institutions. They shape the people we become and the kind of world we inhabit. Sometimes those consequences are positive, a giant leap for moral humankind. Other times they are morally regressive. This propensity of current actions to shape the future is morally important. But slippery slope arguments are a poor way to capture it. That is not to say we can never develop cogent slippery slope arguments. Nonetheless, given their most common usage, it would be prudent to avoid them in moral and political debate. They are often fallacious and have often been used for ill. They are normally used to defend the moral status quo. Even when they are cogent. we can always find an alternate way to capture their insights. Finally, by accepting that the moral roads on which we travel are slippery, we become better able to successfully navigate them.

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