Three Metaphors Toward a Conception of Moral Change


  • Nora Hämäläinen University of Helsinki



moral change, historicity, moral philosophy, Segerdahl P., Hochschild A. R., metaphor


Contemporary moral philosophy is split between an inherently a-historical moral philosophy/theory on the one hand and a growing interest in moral history and the historicity of morality on the other. In between these, the very moments of moral change (and their implications for the possibility of moral realism and moral objectivity) are often left insufficiently attended to and under-theorized. Yet moral change is, arguably, one of the defining features of present day moral frameworks, and thus one of the main things we need to make sense of in moral philosophy. In this paper, I present an account of moral change through the use of three metaphors: the tipping point, the bargaining table and the strong rope. I suggest these as coordinates for the development of a full-blown, historically sensitive conception of morality.

Author Biography

Nora Hämäläinen, University of Helsinki

Nora Hämäläinen is a researcher and docent in philosophy at the University of Helsinki.  Her work centers on questions concerning ethics, moral personhood, philosophy and literature, philosophical method and moral change. She is the author of Literature and Moral Theory (Bloomsbury 2015, paperback 2017) and Descriptive Ethics: What does Moral Philosophy Know about Morality (Palgrave Macmillan 2016), and co-editor of Language, Ethics and Animal Life: Wittgenstein and Beyond (Bloomsbury 2012, with Niklas Forsberg and Mikel Burley). She has been a research fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies in 2013-2016 and at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala, 2016–2017. Since 2016 she is also editor of Sats – Northern European Journal for Philosophy.