The significance of this text in Ethics lies in its effort to awaken
a vital conviction of the genuine reality of moral problems and the
value of reflective thought in dealing with them. To this purpose
are subordinated the presentation ...
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The significance of this text in Ethics lies in its effort to awaken
a vital conviction of the genuine reality of moral problems and the
value of reflective thought in dealing with them. To this purpose
are subordinated the presentation in Part I. of historic material;
the discussion in Part II. of the different types of theoretical
interpretation, and the consideration, in Part III., of some typical
social and economic problems which characterize the present.
Experience shows that the student of morals has difficulty in getting
the field objectively and definitely before him so that its problems
strike him as real problems. Conduct is so intimate that it is not
to analyze. It is so important that to a large extent the perspective
for regarding it has been unconsciously fixed by early training. The
historical method of approach has proved in the classroom experience
Page 1
the authors an effective method of meeting these difficulties. To
the moral life through typical epochs of its development enables
students to realize what is involved in their own habitual
it also presents a concrete body of subject-matter which serves as
material of analysis and discussion.
The classic conceptions of moral theory are of remarkable importance
illuminating the obscure places of the moral life and in giving the
student clues which will enable him to explore it for himself. But
is always danger of either dogmatism or a sense of unreality when
students are introduced abruptly to the theoretical ideas. Instead of
serving as tools for understanding the moral facts, the ideas are
likely to become substitutes for the facts. When they are proffered
ready-made, their theoretical acuteness and cleverness may be admired,
but their practical soundness and applicability are suspected. The
historical introduction permits the student to be present, as it were,
at the social situations in which the intellectual instruments were
forged. He appreciates their relevancy to the conditions which
them, and he is encouraged to try them on simple problems before
attempting the complex problems of the present. By assisting in their
gradual development he gains confidence in the ideas and in his power
use them.
In the second part, devoted more specifically to the analysis and
criticism of the leading conceptions of moral theory, the aim
accordingly has not been to instill the notions of a school nor to
inculcate a ready-made system, but to show the development of theories
out of the problems and experience of every-day conduct, and to
how these theories may be fruitfully applied in practical exigencies.
Aspects of the moral life have been so thoroughly examined that it is
possible to present certain principles in the confidence that they
meet general acceptance. Rationalism and hedonism, for example, have
contributed toward a scientific statement of the elements of conduct,
even though they have failed as self-inclosed and final systems. After
the discussions of Kant and Mill, Sidgwick and Green, Martineau and
Spencer, it is possible to affirm that there is a place in the moral
life for reason and a place for happiness,--a place for duty and a
for valuation. Theories are treated not as incompatible rival systems
which must be accepted or rejected _en bloc_, but as more or less
adequate methods of surveying the problems of conduct. This mode of
approach facilitates the scientific estimation and determination of
part played by various factors in the complexity of moral life. The
Page 2
student is put in a position to judge the problems of conduct for
himself. This emancipation and enlightenment of individual judgment is
the chief aim of the theoretical portion.
In a considerable part of the field, particularly in the political and
economic portions of Part III., no definitive treatment is as yet
possible. Nevertheless, it is highly desirable to introduce the
to the examination of these unsettled questions. When the whole
civilized world is giving its energies to the meaning and value of
justice and democracy, it is intolerably academic that those
in ethics should have to be content with conceptions already worked
which therefore relate to what is least doubtful in conduct rather
to questions now urgent. Moreover, the advantages of considering
and practice in direct relation to each other are mutual. On the one
hand, as against the _a priori_ claims of both individualism and
socialism, the need of the hour seems to us to be the application of
methods of more deliberate analysis and
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940014486842
  • Publisher: All classic book warehouse
  • Publication date: 5/28/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 516
  • File size: 712 KB

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