David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2007)
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)|
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
James Levine (2001). On Russell's Vulnerability to Russell's Paradox. History and Philosophy of Logic 22 (4):207-231.
Graham Stevens (2008). Russell and the Unity of the Proposition. Philosophy Compass 3 (3):491–506.
Nikolay Milkov (2008). Russell's Debt to Lotze. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2):186-193.
C. Wade Savage & C. Anthony Anderson (eds.) (1989). Rereading Russell: Essays in Bertrand Russell's Metaphysics and Epistemology. University of Minnesota Press.
Bertrand Russell (ed.) (1973). Bertrand Russell, the Social Scientist. Bertrand Russell Supranational Society.
Alan Ryan (1996). Russell: The Last Great Radical? Philosophy of the Social Sciences 26 (2):247-266.
Peter Hylton (1990). Russell, Idealism, and the Emergence of Analytic Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
T. Allan Hillman (2008). The Early Russell on the Metaphysics of Substance in Leibniz and Bradley. Synthese 163 (2):245 - 261.
Charles R. Pigden (1996). Bertrand Russell: Meta-Ethical Pioneer. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 26 (2):181-204.
Fraser Macbride (2012). The Cambridge Revolt Against Idealism: Was There Ever an Eden? Metaphilosophy 43 (1-2):135-146.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads38 ( #46,044 of 1,102,917 )
Recent downloads (6 months)16 ( #11,124 of 1,102,917 )
How can I increase my downloads?