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The Possibility of Altruism

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  103 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
The Possibility of Altruism is a classic revival of Kantian ethics in the late 20th century. Written early in Nagel's career, it establishes his famous distinction between agent-relative & agent-neutral reasons, arguing that each agent-relative reason necessarily has an agent-neutral correlate. Furthermore, he believed that these correlates bring along the initial moti ...more
Paperback, 158 pages
Published March 1st 1979 by Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ) (first published January 1st 1970)
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Erik Graff
Nov 08, 2013 Erik Graff rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ethicists
Recommended to Erik by: David Ozar
Shelves: philosophy
Thomas Nagel visited Loyola University during my first semester there while taking David Ozar's Survey Ethics course. Naturally, most of us from class attended his lecture up in the scenic Hussey Lounge atop Damen Hall. He was not a particularly good speaker. It was my first visit to the lounge and I must admit to being distracted by the lovely panorama of the Loop to the south and the Lake to the east.

The book was better, though I have trouble understanding why there is a controversy about the
Dec 23, 2012 Tyler rated it liked it
I wanted to write a brief review on this book, because there doesn't seem to be any other one's besides Erik's. Unfortunately, I find his review irrelevant, and misguided. I don't mean that as disrespectful, but towards the end ranting about what the 'self" is, well, it's quite frankly irrelevant to this particular book. And I think there are some misunderstandings about the book (although, I could be wrong, because it doesn't appear his review says much at all about the book itself).

First, the
Alfred Yun
Feb 25, 2016 Alfred Yun rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ethics, philosophy
By contrasting with the notion of prudence, Nagel effectively argues for the possibility of objective moral motivation. Similar to the way we view our future selves as one of several person stages that constitutes a person, we can view ourselves as one amongst many --leading us to make judgments such as "It is wrong to rape a child for any person." Such insight, perhaps the most important one in this book, that follows even in his later works is the notion of impersonal judgment. Much of this bo ...more
Byrd Alyssa
Sep 26, 2011 Byrd Alyssa marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: Serious student sof philosophy
While absolutely intriguing, the Possibility of Altruism, is a seriously academically challenging read. I hope to get through more of it, but am afraid this may continue to be a task I am not yet ready for.
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Thomas Nagel is an American philosopher, currently University Professor and Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University, where he has taught since 1980. His main areas of philosophical interest are philosophy of mind, political philosophy and ethics. He is well-known for his critique of reductionist accounts of the mind in his essay "What Is it Like to Be a Bat?" (1974), and for his con ...more
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