The Ethical Project

The Ethical Project

by Philip Kitcher
ISBN-10:
0674061446
ISBN-13:
9780674061446
Pub. Date:
11/07/2011
Publisher:
Harvard
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Overview

The Ethical Project

Principles of right and wrong guide the lives of almost all human beings, but we often see them as external to ourselves, outside our own control. In a revolutionary approach to the problems of moral philosophy, Philip Kitcher makes a provocative proposal: Instead of conceiving ethical commands as divine revelations or as the discoveries of brilliant thinkers, we should see our ethical practices as evolving over tens of thousands of years, as members of our species have worked out how to live together and prosper. Elaborating this radical new vision, Kitcher shows how the limited altruistic tendencies of our ancestors enabled a fragile social life, how our forebears learned to regulate their interactions with one another, and how human societies eventually grew into forms of previously unimaginable complexity. The most successful of the many millennia-old experiments in how to live, he contends, survive in our values today.

Drawing on natural science, social science, and philosophy to develop an approach he calls "pragmatic naturalism," Kitcher reveals the power of an evolving ethics built around a few core principles-including justice and cooperation-but leaving room for a diversity of communities and modes of self-expression. Ethics emerges as a beautifully human phenomenon-permanently unfinished, collectively refined and distorted generation by generation. Our human values, Kitcher shows, can be understood not as a final system but as a project-the ethical project-in which our species has engaged for most of its history, and which has been central to who we are.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674061446
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 11/07/2011
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

§1 The Shape of Things to Come 1

§2 Methodological Preliminaries 9

I An Analytical History

1 The Springs of Sympathy 17

§3 Psychological Altruism: Basics 17

§4 The Varieties of Altruistic Reactions 25

§5 Some Dimensions of Altruism 31

§6 Maternal Concern 35

§7 Broader Forms of Altruism? 42

§8 Possibilities of Evolutionary Explanation 47

§9 The Coalition Game 57

2 Normative Guidance 67

§10 The Limits of Altruism 67

§11 Following Orders 74

§12 Punishment 87

§13 Conscience 92

§14 Social Embedding 96

3 Experiments of Living 104

§15 From There to Here 104

§16 Cultural Competition 107

§17 The Unseen Enforcer 111

§18 Some Dots to Be Connected 115

§19 Divisions of Labor 122

§20 Roles, Rules, and Institutions 125

§21 Altruism Expanded 131

4 One Thing after Another? 138

§22 Mere Change? 138

§23 Three Ancient Examples 140

§24 Second-Sex Citizens 145

§25 Repudiating Chattel Slavery 153

§26 The Withering of Vice 162

§27 The Divine Commander 166

II A Metaethical Perspective

5 Troubles with Truth 173

§28 Taking Stock 173

§29 Prima Facie Problems 178

§30 Truth, Realism and Constructivism 186

§31 The Sources of the Troubles 193

6 Possibilities of Progress 209

§32 The Centrality of Ethical Progress 209

§33 Generalizations from History 213

§34 Problems, Functions and Progress 218

§35 Modes of Refinement 229

§36 Functional Generation 237

§37 Local and Global Progress 242

§38 Ethical Truth Revisited 245

§39 Residual Concerns 249

7 Naturalistic Fallacies? 253

§40 Hume's Challenge 253

§41 Authority Undermined? 263

§42 Troublesome Characters 269

§43 Settling Disputes 280

III A Normative Stance

8 Progress, Equality, and the Good 285

§44 Two Visions of Normative Ethics 285

§45 Dynamic Consequentialism 288

§46 Failures and Successes 294

§47 From the Local Community to the Human Population 302

§48 Equality and the Good Life 311

§49 Population Size 318

§50 Aspects of the Good Life 324

9 Method in Ethics 330

§51 Varieties of Ethical Change 330

§52 Method and the Good 338

§53 Mutual Engagement 342

§54 Ethical Debate 349

§55 Dissent and the Limits of Tolerance 355

§56 The Challenger Revisited 360

10 Renewing the Project 370

§57 Philosophical Midwifery 370

§58 Scarce Resources 374

§59 Habits and Their Limits 381

§60 Conflicting Roles 385

§61 Ethically Insulated Spheres 391

§62 Maintaining Equality 396

§63 The Challenges of Technology 401

Conclusion 409

§64 Summing Up 409

Acknowledgments 411

Index 417

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