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Sidgwickian Ethics
     

Sidgwickian Ethics

by David Phillips
 

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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Sidgwickian Ethics is excellent. The interpretive parts are especially strong. Phillips deploys a wide range of Sidgwick's texts (and their secondary literature) and thorough knowledge of contemporary moral theory."—Rob Shaver, Journal of the History of Philosophy

"An excellent contribution in...[a]...Parfitian vein...[The] two superb chapters on "Sidgwick's Metaethics" and "Sidgwick's Moral Epistemology"...ought to be required reading for all future Sidgwick scholars."—Bart Schultz, Ethics

"Overall this volume offers a valuable discussion of Sidgwick's account of moral knowledge and motivation."—CHOICE

"Phillips presents new and interesting arguments that will, no doubt, stimulate further discussion among those studying the thought of this great Victorian philosopher. ... Readers will no doubt gain a lot from studying his work attentively." — Mind

"David Phillips's tightly argued Sidgwickian Ethics deserves high praise...its novelty lies in the fact that it helps us see clearly the relations between its topics...Phillips's treatment of Sidgwick's meta-ethics and his moral epistemology is largely friendly." — Journal of Moral Philosophy

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199778911
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
11/25/2011
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

David Phillips is Professor of Philosophy, University of Houston

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