It is sometimes said (e.g., by Parfit, by Brink, and others) that "secular moral theory" is a relative new field compared to systematic theorizing in the natural sciences, so it is not surprising that there is more disagreement about ethical matters since we haven't had as much time (or made as much effort) to make systematic theoretical progress on the problems. I confess this has always struck me as a somewhat implausible claim. Consider: a perfectly typical "Introduction to Ethics" class (in an ordinary, secular university) might well start with the systematic moral theory of Aristotle, whereas the typical "Introduction to Physics" class will never start with Aristotle's physical theory. Current "secular" ethical theory traces its intellectual routes back over two thousand years. And even if the standard secular ethical canon leaps over a millenium or so, it's still the case that contemporary secular ethical theory has a history of 250 years. Yet can it claim as much progress as "secular" biology, which has a history of about 150 years?
What do readers make of the argument that secular ethical theory is relatively young therefore we should be optimistic about its progress over time? Post only once, comments may take awhile to appear.