Russell's moral philosophy

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2007)
Abstract
A 27000 word survey of Russell’s ethics for the SEP. I argue that Russell was a meta-ethicist of some significance. In the course of his long philosophical career, he canvassed most of the meta-ethical options that have dominated debate in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries — naturalism, non-naturalism, emotivism and the error-theory (anticipating Stevenson and Ayer on the one hand and Mackie on the other), and even, to some extent, subjectivism and relativism. And though none of his theories quite worked out, there is much to be learned from his mistakes. Nor is this all. His ARGUMENTS as well as his THEORIES are often interesting and instructive. The ethical corollary to the argument of ‘Seems Madam? Nay, It Is,’ puts the kybosh on any attempt to resolve Sidgwick's Dualism of Practical Reason by arguing that although we are distinct beings with different interests in the world of Appearance, we are, in Reality, all one (§3). Russell's arguments against objectivism are often quite powerful, and one anticipates Gilbert Harman's influential argument that objective values can be safely dismissed since they lack explanatory power (§9.3-9.4). Russell's damning critique of Moore's analytic consequentialism led Moore to abandon the view and perhaps to give up his ‘unduly anti-reforming’ moral conservatism. Moreover Russell's INDIRECT influence on meta-ethics may have been profound since the Open Question Argument, was probably invented to deal with Russell's ideas. Finally, in the realm of normative ethics, Russell developed a sensible and humane version of consequentialism, which (despite its shaky meta-ethical foundations) is resistant, if not immune, to many of the standard criticisms, especially if combined — as Russell thought it should be combined — with a healthy dose of political skepticism. It provides a powerful tool for social and political criticism, a tool which Russell vigorously employed on a vast range of topics in his writings on practical ethics.
Keywords Bertrand Russell  G.E Moore  Henry Sidgwick  The Naturalistic Fallacy  Meta-Ethics  Absolute Idealism  Conseqentialism  Bolshevism  Open Question Argument
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive Charles Pigden, Russell's moral philosophy
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA
Charles R. Pigden (2012). Identifying Goodness. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (1):93 - 109.
Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

31 ( #55,268 of 1,099,048 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

16 ( #9,941 of 1,099,048 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.