Etica and Politica / Ethics and Politics 10 (2):19-41 (2008)
|Abstract||Sidgwick’s dualism of the practical reason is the idea that since egoism and utilitarianism<br>aim both to have rational supremacy in our practical decisions, whenever they conflict<br>there is no stronger reason to follow the dictates of either view. The dualism leaves us<br>with a practical problem: in conflict cases, we cannot be guided by practical reason to<br>decide what all things considered we ought to do. There is an epistemic problem as well:<br>the conflict of egoism and utilitarianism shows that they cannot be both self-evident<br>principles. Only the existence of a just God could, for Sidgwick, prevent the conflict and<br>thus solve the dualism. The paper first explores in detail and rejects some reconstructions<br>of the dualism: a purely logical account, and accounts whereby egoism and utilitarianism<br>are principles of pro tanto reasons or of sufficient reasons. Then it proposes a better account,<br>in which egoism and utilitarianism are logically compatible and yet conflicting<br>principles of all things considered reason. The account is shown to fit with Sidgwick’s<br>view of the dualism and of its practical and epistemic pitfalls. Finally, some views are<br>discussed as to the wider positive significance of the dualism, regarded as a challenge to<br>the rational authority of morality, or as indicating the structural opposition of agentrelative<br>and agent-neutral reasons, or again as the imperfect yet amendable attempt at a<br>comprehensive pluralist theory of practical reasons.|
|Keywords||Henry Sidgwick Practical Reason Utilitarianism Egoism|
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