Sidgwick’s Argument for Utilitarianism and his Moral Epistemology: A Reply to David Phillips

David Phillips’s Sidgwickian Ethics is a penetrating contribution to the scholarly and philosophical understanding of Henry Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics. This note focuses on Phillips’s understanding of (aspects of) Sidgwick’s argument for utilitarianism and the moral epistemology to which he subscribes. In § I, I briefly outline the basic features of the argument that Sidgwick provides for utilitarianism, noting some disagreements with Phillips along the way. In § II, I raise some objections to Phillips’s account of the epistemology underlying the argument. In § III, I reply to the claim that there is a puzzle at the heart of Sidgwick’s epistemology. In § IV, I respond to Phillips’s claim that Sidgwick is unfair in his argument against the (deontological) morality of common sense.
Keywords Henry Sidgwick  Moral Epistemology  Normative Ethics  David Phillips
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Anthony Skelton (2010). Henry Sidgwick's Moral Epistemology. Journal of the History of Philosophy 48 (4):491-519.
Anthony Skelton (2011). Utilitarian Practical Ethics: Sidgwick and Singer. In Placido Bucolo, Roger Crisp & Bart Schultz (eds.), Henry Sidgwick: Ethics, Psychics, and Politics. Catania: University of Catania Press
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