Practical Ethics: A Collection of Addresses and Essays by Henry Sidgwick
A classic work in the field of practical and professional ethics, this collection of nine essays by English philosopher and educator Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900) was first published in 1898 and forms a vital complement to Sidgwick's major treatise on moral theory, The Methods of Ethics. Reissued here as Volume One in a new series sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, the book is composed chiefly of addresses to members of two ethical societies that Sidgwick helped to found in Cambridge and London in the 1880s. Clear, taut, and lively, these essays demonstrate the compassion and calm reasonableness that Sidgwick brought to all his writings.
As Sidgwick explains in his opening essay, the societies he addressed aimed to allow academics, professionals, and others to pursue joint efforts at reaching "some results of value for practical guidance and life." Sidgwick hoped that members might discuss such questions as when, if ever, public officials might be justified in lying or in breaking promises, whether scientists could legitimately inflict suffering on animals for research purposes, when nations might have just cause in going to war, and a score of other issues of ethics in public and private life still debated a century later.
This valuable reissue returns Practical Ethics to its rightful place in Sidgwick's oeuvre. Noted ethicist Sissela Bok provides a superb Introduction, ranging over the course of Sidgwick's life and career and underscoring the relevance of Practical Ethics to contemporary debate. She writes: "Practical Ethics, the last book that Henry Sidgwick published before his death in 1900, contains the distillation of a lifetime of reflection on ethics and on what it would take for ethical debate to be 'really of use in the solution of practical questions.'" This rich, engaging work is essential reading for all concerned with the relationship between ethical theory and. practice, and with the questions that have driven the study of professional ethics in recent years.