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The Methods of Ethics

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  71 Ratings  ·  2 Reviews
This Hackett edition, first published in 1981, is an unabridged and unaltered republication of the seventh (1907) edition as published by Macmillan and Company, Limited.

From the forward by John Rawls:

In the utilitarian tradition Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900) has an important place. His fundamental work, The Methods of Ethics (first edition 1874, seventh and last edition 1907,
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Paperback, 568 pages
Published August 1st 1981 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (first published 1874)
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Kramer Thompson
Feb 25, 2017 Kramer Thompson rated it liked it
This was an extremely tedious read for several reasons. It was long, very detailed, covered a wide range of topics (many of which I have little interest in), and reached some conclusions I disagree with. That said, because the book was so long and detailed, Sidgwick managed to illustrate clearly common sense morality and suggest how common sense morality's inconsistencies may be solved by appeal to utilitarianism. Overall, a book I am glad I have read, although one I certainly did not enjoy read ...more
Chris
Mar 30, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: ethics
All ethical argumentation ultimately reduces to reasoning about happiness. Sidgwick is persuasive to an impressive degree, but not absolutely.

Are preferences conducive to happiness really always exogenous? How are we to arbitrate between different people's conflicting desires for happiness without a higher good?
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  • On What Matters (2 Volume Set)
  • Utilitarianism: For and Against
  • Natural Goodness
  • Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong
  • Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy
  • Principia Ethica (Philosophical Classics)
  • A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works
  • Political Liberalism
  • Experiments in Ethics
  • Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership
  • The Expanding Circle: Ethics and Sociobiology
  • The Fable of the Bees and Other Writings
  • The Philosophy of Language
  • J. S. Mill: 'On Liberty' and Other Writings
  • درس های فلسفه اخلاق
  • Normative Ethics
  • Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life
  • Mortal Questions

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“Truthspeaking is only valuable as a means to the preservation of society: only if it be admitted that it is valuable on this ground I should say that it is implied that the preservation of society---or some further end to which this preservation, again, is a means---must be valuable per se, and therefore something at which a rational being, as such, ought to aim. If it be granted that we need not look beyond the preservation of society, the primary ‘dictate of reason' in this case would be ‘that society ought to be preserved': but reason would also dictate that truth ought to be spoken, so far as truthspeaking is recognised as the indispensable or fittest means to this end: and the notion “ought'' as used in either dictate is that which I have been trying to make clear.” 0 likes
“For we conceive it as the aim of a philosopher, as such, to do somewhat more than define and formulate the common normal opinions of mankind. His function is to tell men what they ought to think, rather than what they do think: he is expected to transcend Common Sense in his premises, and is allowed a certain divergence from Common Sense in his conclusions. It is true that the limits of this deviation are firmly, though indefinitely, fixed: the truth of a philosopher's premises will always be tested by the acceptability of his conclusions: if in any important point he be found in flagrant conflict with common opinion, his method is likely to be declared invalid. Still, though he is expected to establish and concatenate at least the main part of the commonly accepted moral rules, he is not necessarily bound to take them as the basis on which his own system is constructed. Rather, we should expect that the history of Moral Philosophy--so far at least as those whom we may call orthodox thinkers are concerned--would be a history of attempts to enunciate, in full breadth and clearness, those primary intuitions of Reason, by the scientific application of which the common moral thought of mankind may be at once systematized and corrected.” 0 likes
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