LAW214-LAWS805_TBa_45-86.pdf

These are internally skeptical arguments because they

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These are internally skeptical arguments because they as- sume some general and abstract moral position that moral claims have genuine moral force only when they are drawn . from the mores of a particular community, for example, or that moral beliefs are false unless they are likely to be ac - cepted in any culture as the basis for rejecting the more concrete moral claims in hand. Substantive moral argu - ments like these have actually been made, of course, and their latent appeal might explain why skepticism, disguised as external skepticism, has been so popular in interpretation and in law. They might not strike you as good arguments, once that disguise is abandoned, but that is, I suggest, be - cause you find global internal skepticism about morality im - plausible. The metamorphosis I describe is not costless, because the skeptic s arguments, recast as arguments of internal skepti - cism, can no longer be peremptory or a priori. He needs ar - guments that stand up as moral (or aesthetic or interpretive) arguments; or if not arguments, at least convictions of the appropriate kind. His skepticism can no longer be disen - gaged or neutral about ordinary moral (or aesthetic or inter - pretive) opinions. He cannot reserve his skepticism for some quiet philosophical moment, and press his own opinions about the morality of slavery, for example, or the connection between courtesy and respect, when he is off duty and only acting in the ordinary way. He has given up his distinction
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r INTERPRETIVE CONCEPTS 85 between ordinary and objective opinions; if he really be - lieves, in the internally skeptical way, that no moral judg - ment is really better than any other, he cannot then add that in his opinion slavery is unjust. Conclusions and Agenda I end this long section with an apology and some advice. We have marched up a steep hill and then right down again. We know no more about interpretation, or about morality or courtesy or justice or law, than we did when we began to consider the skeptical challenge. For my argument has been entirely defensive. Skeptics declare deep error in the inter - pretive attitude as I described it; they say it is a mistake to suppose that one interpretation of a social practice, or of anything else, can be right or wrong or really better than another. If we construe that complaint on the model of ex- ternal skepticism, then, for the reasons I gave, the complaint is confused. If we construe it more naturally as a piece of global internal skepticism, then all the argument waits to be made. We stand where we did, only put on more explicit no - tice of the possible threat of this latter, potentially very da - maging, form of argument. I marched up this hill and down again only because the skeptical challenge, sensed as the challenge of external skep- ticism, has a powerful hold on lawyers. They say, of any thesis about the best account of legal practice in some department of the law, That s your opinion, which is true but to no point. Or they ask, How do you know? or Where does that claim come from? demanding not a case they can accept or oppose but a thundering knock-down
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