This paper argues for the view that moral realism is irrelevant to ethics. It recalls Aristotle's claim that the Platonic Form of the Good is irrelevant because it is not the sort of thing we can desire or pursue. Moore's account of ethics in relation to conduct and of the Ideal is woefully inadequate as a morality to live by. Peter Railton's moral realism also involves a very weak first-order moral theory. These failures are due, I claim, to the fact (...) that Plato, Moore and Railton regard morality as a science; it is not a science, it is an art. (shrink)
In a memorable passage near the beginning of William James asks us to imagine a world in which all our dearest social utopias are realized, and then to imagine that this world is offered to us at the price of one lost soul at the farthest edge of the universe suffering eternal, intense, lonely pain. Then he asks.
William James (1842-1910) was both a philosopher and a psychologist, nowadays most closely associated with the pragmatic theory of truth. The essays in this Companion deal with the full range of his thought as well as other issues, including technical philosophical issues, religious speculation, moral philosophy and political controversies of his time. The relationship between James and other philosophers of his time, as well as his brother Henry, are also examined. By placing James in his intellectual landscape the volume will (...) be particularly useful to teachers and students outside philosophy in such areas as religious studies, history of ideas, and American studies. New readers and nonspecialists will find this the most convenient and accessible guide to James currently available. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of James. (shrink)