First published in 1903, this volume revolutionized philosophy and forever altered the direction of ethical studies. It clarifies some of moral philosophy's most common confusions and redefines the science's terminology. 6 chapters explore: the subject matter of ethics, naturalistic ethics, hedonism, metaphysical ethics, ethics in relation to conduct, and the ideal.
This book challenges, with several powerful arguments, some of our deepest beliefs about rationality, morality, and personal identity. The author claims that we have a false view of our own nature; that it is often rational to act against our own best interests; that most of us have moral views that are directly self-defeating; and that, when we consider future generations the conclusions will often be disturbing. He concludes that moral non-religious moral philosophy is a young subject, with a promising but unpredictable future.
On What Matters is a major work in moral philosophy. It is the long-awaited follow-up to Derek Parfit's 1984 book Reasons and Persons, one of the landmarks of twentieth-century philosophy. Parfit now presents a powerful new treatment of reasons, rationality, and normativity, and a critical examination of three systematic moral theories - Kant's ethics, contractualism, and consequentialism - leading to his own ground-breaking synthetic conclusion. Along the way he discusses a wide range of moral issues, such as the significance of consent, treating people as a means rather than an end, and free will and responsibility. On What Matters is already the most-discussed work in moral philosophy: its publication is likely to establish it as a modern classic which everyone working on moral philosophy will have to read, and which many others will turn to for stimulation and illumination. The second volume of Derek Parfit's magnum opus is in four parts. The first presents critiques of his work by four of the world's leading moral philosophers. The second contains his responses. The third and longest part is a self-contained monograph by Parfit on normativity. The final part comprises seven new essays by Parfit on Kant, reasons, irrationality, autonomy - and why the universe exists.
What does the idea of taking 'the point of view of the universe' tell us about ethics? The great nineteenth-century utilitarian Henry Sidgwick used this metaphor to present what he took to be a self-evident moral truth: the good of one individual is of no more importance than the good of any other. Ethical judgments, he held, are objective truths that we can know by reason. The ethical axioms he took to be self-evident provide a foundation for utilitarianism. He supplements this foundation with an argument that nothing except states of consciousness have ultimate value, which led him to hold that pleasure is the only thing that is intrinsically good. Are these claims defensible? Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer test them against a variety of views held by contemporary writers in ethics, and conclude that they are. This book is therefore a defence of objectivism in ethics, and of hedonistic utilitarianism. The authors also explore, and in most cases support, Sidgwick's views on many other key questions in ethics: how to justify an ethical theory, the significance of an evolutionary explanation of our moral judgments, the choice between preference-utilitarianism and hedonistic utilitarianism, the conflict between self-interest and universal benevolence, whether something that it would be wrong to do openly can be right if kept secret, how demanding utilitarianism is, whether we should discount the future, or favor those who are worse off, the moral status of animals, and what is an optimum population.
THE ELEMENTS OF POLITICS is part of an impressive catalog of books by the English philosopher and educator Henry Sidgwick.First published in 1898, this two-part work is a collection of twenty essays, all of which represent his ideas related to the scope and method of politics, fundamental conceptions of politics and general principles of legislation, inheritance and property rights, contracts and remedies for wrongs, the maintenance of government as well as law and morality.Throughout his work, Sidgwick addressed politics and all its inherent problems with acuity, genuine concern, and the enduring rationale he brought to all his writings.HENRY SIDGWICK (1838-1900) was a prominent scholar at Trinity College and a distinguished Professor of Moral Philosophy at Cambridge. As the quintessential Victorian, he was the perfect 19th Century English academic (although he temporarily lost his fellowship in 1869 over his refusal to make a religious oath; he was re-elected in 1885). Additional works include Principles (1883), Methods of Ethics (1874), and Edgeworth (1877).
Two essays on utilitarianism, written from opposite points of view, by J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams. In the first part of the book Professor Smart advocates a modern and sophisticated version of classical utilitarianism; he tries to formulate a consistent and persuasive elaboration of the doctrine that the rightness and wrongness of actions is determined solely by their consequences, and in particular their consequences for the sum total of human happiness. In Part II Bernard Williams offers a sustained and vigorous critique of utilitarian assumptions, arguments and ideals. He finds inadequate the theory of action implied by utilitarianism, and he argues that utilitarianism fails to engage at a serious level with the real problems of moral and political philosophy, and fails to make sense of notions such as integrity, or even human happiness itself. This book should be of interest to welfare economists, political scientists and decision-theorists.
An insight into moral skepticism of the 20th century. The author argues that our every-day moral codes are an 'error theory' based on the presumption of moral facts which, he persuasively argues, don't exist. His refutation of such facts is based on their metaphysical 'queerness' and the observation of cultural relativity.
Henry Sidgwick's The Methods of Ethics is one of the most important books in the history of moral philosophy. But it has not hitherto received the kind of sustained scholarly attention its stature merits. David Phillips aims in Sidgwickian Ethics to do something that has (surprisingly) not been done before: to interpret and evaluate the central argument of the Methods, in a way that brings out the important conceptual and historical connections between Sidgwick's views and contemporary moral philosophy. Sidgwick distinguished three basic methods: utilitarianism, egoism, and dogmatic intuitionism. And he focused on two conflicts: between utilitarianism and dogmatic intuitionism and between utilitarianism and egoism. Sidgwick believed he could largely resolve the conflict between utilitarianism and dogmatic intuitionism, but could not resolve the conflict between utilitarianism and egoism. Phillips suggests that the best way to approach Sidgwick's ideas is to start with his views on these two conflicts, and with the metaethical and epistemological ideas on which they depend. Phillips interprets and largely defends Sidgwick's non-naturalist metaethics and moderate intuitionist moral epistemology. But he argues for a verdict on the two conflicts different from Sidgwick's own. Phillips claims that Sidgwick is less successful than he thinks in resolving the conflict between utilitarianism and dogmatic intuitionism, and that Sidgwick's treatment of the conflict between utilitarianism and egoism is more successful than he thinks in that it provides the model for a plausible view of practical reason. Phillips's book will be of interest to two different groups of readers: to students seeking a brief introduction to Sidgwick's most important ideas and a guidebook to the Methods, and to scholars in ethics and the history of ideas concerned with Sidgwick's seminal contribution to moral philosophy.
Roger Crisp presents a comprehensive study of Henry Sidgwick's The Methods of Ethics, a landmark work first published in 1874. Crisp argues that Sidgwick is largely right about many central issues in moral philosophy: the metaphysics and epistemology of ethics, consequentialism, hedonism about well-being, and the weight to be given to self-interest. He holds that Sidgwick's long discussion of 'common-sense' morality is probably the best discussion of deontology we have. And yet The Methods of Ethics can be hard to understand, and this is perhaps one reason why, though it is a philosophical goldmine, few have ventured deeply into it. What does Sidgwick mean by a 'method'? Why does he discuss only three methods? What are his arguments for hedonism and for utilitarianism? How can we make sense of the idea of moral intuition? What is the role of virtue in Sidgwick's ethics? Crisp addresses these and many other questions, offering a fresh view of Sidgwick's text which will assist any moral philosopher to gain more from it.
This book was first published in 2004. Henry Sidgwick was one of the great intellectual figures of nineteenth-century Britain. He was first and foremost a great moral philosopher, whose masterwork The Methods of Ethics is still widely studied today. He also wrote on economics, politics, education and literature. He was deeply involved in the founding of the first college for women at the University of Cambridge. He was also much concerned with the sexual politics of his close friend John Addington Symonds, a pioneer of gay studies. Through his famous student, G. E. Moore, a direct line can be traced from Sidgwick and his circle to the Bloomsbury group. Bart Schultz has written a magisterial overview of this great Victorian sage. This biography will be eagerly sought out by readers interested in philosophy, Victorian literary studies, the history of ideas, the history of psychology and gender and gay studies.