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. (shrink)
Utilitarianism is the view according to which the only basic requirement of morality is to maximize net aggregate welfare. This position has implications for the ethics of creating and rearing children. Most discussions of these implications focus either on the ethics of procreation and in particular on how many and whom it is right to create , or on whether utilitarianism permits the kind of partiality that child rearing requires. Despite its importance to creating and raising children, there are, by (...) contrast, few sustained discussions of the implications of utilitarian views of welfare for the matter of what makes a child’s life go well. This paper attempts to remedy this deficiency. It has four sections. Section one discusses the purpose of a theory of welfare and its adequacy conditions. Section two evaluates what prominent utilitarian theories of welfare imply about what makes a child’s life go well. Section three provides a sketch of a view about what is prudentially valuable for children. Section four sums things up. (shrink)
This is the table of contents of and introduction to a textbook entitled Bioethics in Canada. It will be published by Oxford University Press in March of 2013. It is designed mainly for use in Canada. Of the 51 articles that it contains, 26 are written by Canadians. -/- For further information, see http://www.oupcanada.com/catalog/9780195440157.html and http://www.amazon.ca/Bioethics-Canada-Charles-Weijer/dp/0195440153/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=13 59542985&sr=1-1.
Ideal utilitarianism states that the only fundamental requirement of morality is to promote a plurality of intrinsic goods. This paper critically evaluates Hastings Rashdall’s arguments for ideal utilitarianism, while comparing them with G. E. Moore’s arguments. Section I outlines Rashdall’s ethical outlook. Section II considers two different arguments that he provides for its theory of rightness. Section III discusses his defence of a pluralist theory of value. Section IV argues that Rashdall makes a lasting contribution to the defence of ideal (...) utilitarianism. (shrink)
This is a critical review of In the Agora: The Public Face of Canadian Philosophy. It argues that this book does not adequately represent the public face of Canadian philosophy, though it contains some first-rate contributions.
It is often argued that Henry Sidgwick is a conservative about moral matters, while Peter Singer is a radical. Both are exponents of a utilitarian account of morality but they use it to very different effect. I think this way of viewing the two is mistaken or, at the very least, overstated. Sidgwick is less conservative than has been suggested and Singer is less radical than he initially seems. To illustrate my point, I will rely on what each has to (...) say about the moral demands of suffering and destitution. (shrink)
In this essay I defend the view that Henry Sidgwick’s moral epistemology is a form of intuitionist foundationalism that grants common-sense morality no evidentiary role. In §1, I outline both the problematic of The Methods of Ethics and the main elements of its argument for utilitarianism. In §§2-4 I provide my interpretation of Sidgwick’s moral epistemology. In §§ 5-8 I refute rival interpretations, including the Rawlsian view that Sidgwick endorses some version of reflective equilibrium and the view that he is (...) committed to some kind of pluralistic epistemology. In§ 9 I contend with some remaining objections to my view. (shrink)
In ‘Sidgwick’s Epistemology’, John Deigh argues that Henry Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics ‘was not perceived during his lifetime as a major and lasting contribution to British moral philosophy’ and that interest in it declined considerably after Sidgwick’s death because the epistemology on which it relied ‘increasingly became suspect in analytic philosophy and eventually [it was] discarded as obsolete’. In this article I dispute these claims.
Sidgwick famously claimed that an argument in favour of utilitarianism might be provided by demonstrating that a set of defensible philosophical intuitions undergird it. This paper focuses on those philosophical intuitions. It aims to show which specific intuitions Sidgwick endorsed, and to shed light on their mutual connections. It argues against many rival interpretations that Sidgwick maintained that six philosophical intuitions constitute the self-evident grounds for utilitarianism, and that those intuitions appear to be specifications of a negative principle of universalization (...) (according to which differential treatments must be based on reasonable grounds alone). In addition, this paper attempts to show how the intuitions function in the overall argument for utilitarianism. The suggestion is that the intuitions are the main positive part of the argument for the view, which includes Sidgwick's rejection of common-sense morality and its philosophical counterpart, dogmatic intuitionism. The paper concludes by arguing that some of Sidgwick's intuitions fail to meet the conditions for self-evidence which Sidgwick himself established and applied to the rules of common-sense morality. (shrink)
Bart Schultz’s Henry Sidgwick: Eye of the Universe is a welcome addition to the growing literature on Sidgwick. In this article, I direct my attention for the most part to one aspect of what Schultz says about Sidgwick’s masterpiece, The Methods of Ethics, as well as to what he does not say about Sidgwick’s illuminating but neglected work Practical Ethics. This article is divided into three sections. In the first, I argue that there is a problem with Schultz’s endorsement of (...) the view that Sidgwick’smoral epistemology combines elements of both coherentism and foundationalism. In the second, I argue that Schultz has failed to do justice to Sidgwick’s mature views in Practical Ethics. In the final section, I briefly say something about Schultz’s suggestion that Sidgwick succumbed to both racism and dishonesty. (shrink)
Critical notice of Robert Audi's The Good in the Right in which doubts are raised about the epistemological and ethical doctrines it defends. It doubts that an appeal to Kant is a profitable way to defend Rossian normative intuitionism.
Henry Sidgwick's Practical Ethics offers a novel approach to practical moral issues. In this article, I defend Sidgwick's approach against recent objections advanced by Sissela Bok, Karen Hanson, Michael S. Pritchard, and Michael Davis. In the first section, I provide some context within which to situate Sidgwick's view. In the second, I outline the main features of Sidgwick's methodology and the powerful rationale that lies behind it. I emphasize elements of the view that help to defend it, noting some affinities (...) it has with those of the later Rawls. In the third section, I indicate how it promises to help alleviate some difficulties facing modern practical ethics. In the fourth, I respond to Bok's objections. I argue that her own work on practical ethics has some similarities to Sidgwick's which should make them friends, not enemies. In the fifth section, I respond to Hanson, Pritchard and Davis. (shrink)