In my immediately previous post, I set out the basics necessary to understand the concept of metaethical flexibility. In short, this is a term to describe how the same person might appeal to consequences when considering one ethical question but god’s commands when considering another and in still others use a different form of moral reasoning altogether.
I also argued that, though there is only a small amount of research on how humans make moral decisions, there is almost none directly examining or measuring metaethical flexibility. Further, professional ethicists tend to specialize in a particular type of moral reasoning and not just a particular ethical question. Focus on a particular ethical question might lead an ethicist to examine all the different ways humans might think about that question, but since it is likely that some are likely to end in different, even contradictory answers (and since we humans don’t like to be told the same action is both moral and immoral at the same time), this form of exploration is considered less satisfying and/or less productive than trying to find a single answer by rigorously following a single ethical methodology.
To defend an answer, an ethicist typically will examine how other metaethics might lead to different answers. However, this effort to defend an approach and its answer frequently doesn’t help those who use other metaethics to come to agreement on the conclusion. Ethicists, then, more frequently contest answers within their own metaethical schools than answers derived within other schools.
Although this seems like it would at least help the community of persons that do employ a particular manner of ethical reasoning, the existence of metaethical flexibility implies that an ethicist cannot even trust that those persons who self-identify as belonging to the same metaethical tribe will be using the same ethical reasoning style when it comes to a specific question.
Ultimately, then, humans are inconsistent in the way they think about moral questions, and a body of professional ethicists who treat humans as if they are consistent is going to fail to provide the benefits to a community that a more realistic ethical profession might be able to provide.