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Summary Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900) is widely regarded as the most enduringly significant figure in late 19th century Anglo-American moral philosophy. He is both the last of the three classical utilitarians (Bentham, Mill, and Sidgwick) and the first in a tradition of British intuitionists stretching into the mid 20th century and including Moore and Ross. His works include books on political philosophy, political history, and economics, and articles on issues in epistemology and general philosophy. But by far his most discussed work in his masterpiece, The Methods of Ethics (first edition 1874, 7th (posthumous) edition 1907).
Key works For the student of ethics, Sidgwick's own most important works are The Methods of Ethics (Sidgwick 1907); Lectures on the Ethics of T.H. Green, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and J. Martineau (Sidgwick 1902) and Essays on Ethics and Method (Sidgwick 2000). Important secondary sources include C.D. Broad, Five Types of Ethical Theory (Broad 1959); Jerome Schneewind, Sidgwick's Ethics and Victorian Moral Philosophy (Schneewind 1977); Robert Shaver, Rational Egoism (Shaver 1998);  Bart Schultz, Henry Sidgwick: Eye of the Universe (Schultz 2004); Terence Irwin, The Development of Ethics, Vol. III (Irwin 2009); and David Phillips, Sidgwickian Ethics (Phillips 2011).
Introductions The best introductions to Sidgwick's work are probably his own in the "short intellectual autobiography" included by his literary executor, E.E. Constance Jones, in the Preface to the 6th edition of the Methods (Sidgwick 1907, xvii-xxiii) and Bart Schultz's Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article "Henry Sidgwick".
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  1. Review: Henry S. [REVIEW]Alex John London - forthcoming - Philosophical Explorations.
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  2. Practical Ethics in Sidgwick and Kant.Anthony Skelton - 2020 - In Tyler Paytas & Tim Henning (eds.), Kantian and Sidgwickian Ethics: The Cosmos of Duty Above and the Moral Law Within. New York, NY, USA: Routledge. pp. 13-39.
    Sidgwick claimed Kant as one of his moral philosophical masters. This did not prevent Sidgwick from registering pointed criticisms of most of Kant’s main claims in ethics. This paper explores the practical ethics of Sidgwick and Kant. In § I, I outline the element of Kant’s theoretical ethics that Sidgwick endorsed. In §§ II and III, I outline and adjudicate some of their sharpest disagreements in practical ethics, on the permissibility of lying and on the demands of beneficence. In § (...)
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  3. Review of J. B. Schneewind, Essays on the History of Moral Philosophy. [REVIEW]Anthony Skelton - 2017 - Mind 126 (503):949-954.
    This is a critical review of J. B. Schneewind's Essays on the History of Moral Philosophy.
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  4. Rawls on Kantian Constructivism.Nathaniel Jezzi - 2016 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 4 (8).
    John Rawls’s 1980 Dewey Lectures are widely acknowledged to represent the locus classicus for contemporary discussions of moral constructivism. Nevertheless, few published works have engaged with the significant interpretive challenges one finds in these lectures, and those that have fail to offer a satisfactory reading of the view that Rawls presents there or the place the lectures occupy in the development of Rawls's thinking. Indeed, there is a surprising lack of consensus about how best to interpret the constructivism of these (...)
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  5. The Point of View of the Universe, by Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer. [REVIEW]David Phillips - 2016 - Mind 125 (497):244-248.
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  6. The Cosmos of Duty: Henry Sidgwick's Methods of Ethics by Roger Crisp.Bart Schultz - 2016 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 54 (3):510-511.
    The career of Oxford philosopher Roger Crisp has produced a wonderfully rich yield of elegant, lucid philosophizing that combines in a rare mix historical erudition and brilliant, creative, and highly interdisciplinary ethical argument. Crisp is steeped in Aristotle and Mill, W. D. Ross and Derek Parfit, but his deepest source of inspiration is by his own admission the Victorian era Cambridge philosopher Henry Sidgwick, author of the famous Methods of Ethics. Although Sidgwick has been regarded as a kind of master (...)
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  7. British Ethical Theorists From Sidgwick to Ewing, by Hurka, Thomas: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014, Pp. Xiv+ 310, £30.Bart Schultz - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (3):611-614.
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  8. Sidgwick on Pleasure.Robert Shaver - 2016 - Ethics 126 (4):901-928.
  9. The Cosmos of Duty - Henry Sidgwick’s Methods of Ethics.Roger Crisp - 2015 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Roger Crisp presents a comprehensive study of Henry Sidgwick's The Methods of Ethics, a landmark work first published in 1874. Crisp argues that Sidgwick is largely right about many central issues in moral philosophy: the metaphysics and epistemology of ethics, consequentialism, hedonism about well-being, and the weight to be given to self-interest. He holds that Sidgwick's long discussion of 'common-sense' morality is probably the best discussion of deontology we have. And yet The Methods of Ethics can be hard to understand, (...)
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  10. The Point of View of the Universe: Sidgwick and Contemporary Ethics.Robert Shaver - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (259):301-304.
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  11. Review of David Phillips, Sidgwickian Ethics. [REVIEW]Anthony Skelton - 2015 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 12 (6):794-797.
    This is a critical review of David Phillips's Sidgwickian Ethics. The book deserves high praise.
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  12. Underivative Duty: British Moral Philosophers From Sidgwick to Ewing, Edited by Thomas Hurka.G. Sterling - 2015 - Mind 124 (494):636-639.
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  13. Colloquium 5 Commentary on Schultz.Suzanne Stern-Gillet - 2015 - Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium of Ancient Philosophy 30 (1):142-155.
    The paper, although polemical for the most part, also presents a substantive thesis. The polemical part is directed at the claim that the Platonic Socrates held that philosophy as a practice is to be devoted to the care of self and others, and that the expression of emotion is an important aspect of the philosophic life. To undermine that claim, counter-examples from the autobiographical narrative in the Phaedo and the speeches of Diotima and Alcibiades in the Symposium are brought in. (...)
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  14. Sidgwickian Ethics, by David Phillips.Katarzyna De Lazari-Radek - 2014 - Mind 123 (491):951-956.
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  15. Sidgwick on Consequentialism and Deontology: A Critique.Thomas Hurka - 2014 - Utilitas 26 (2):129-152.
    In The Methods of Ethics Henry Sidgwick argued against deontology and for consequentialism. More specifically, he stated four conditions for self-evident moral truth and argued that, whereas no deontological principles satisfy all four conditions, the principles that generate consequentialism do. This article argues that both his critique of deontology and his defence of consequentialism fail, largely for the same reason: that he did not clearly grasp the concept W. D. Ross later introduced of a prima facie duty or duty other (...)
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  16. British Ethical Theorists From Sidgwick to Ewing.Thomas Hurka - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    This is the first full historical study of a key strand in the development of modern moral philosophy. The subject is a school of British ethical theorists from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, including Sidgwick and Moore. Hurka shows what these philosophers thought, how they influenced each other, and how their ideas changed through time.
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  17. The Point of View of the Universe: Sidgwick and Contemporary Ethics.Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek & Peter Singer - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    What does the idea of taking 'the point of view of the universe' tell us about ethics? Lazari-Radek and Singer defend objectivism in ethics, and hedonistic utilitarianism, following Henry Sidgwick's lead. They explore how to justify an ethical theory; conflicts of self-interest and universal benevolence; and whether we should discount the future.
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  18. Sidgwick's Axioms and Consequentialism.Robert Shaver - 2014 - Philosophical Review 123 (2):173-204.
    Sidgwick gives various tests for highest certainty. When he applies these tests to commonsense morality, he finds nothing of highest certainty. In contrast, when he applies these tests to his own axioms, he finds these axioms to have highest certainty. The axioms culminate in Benevolence: “Each one is morally bound to regard the good of any other individual as much as his own, except in so far as he judges it to be less, when impartially viewed, or less certainly knowable (...)
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  19. On Henry Sidgwick’s “My Station and Its Duties”.Anthony Skelton - 2014 - Ethics 125 (1):586-591.
    This is a retrospective essay on Henry Sidgwick's "My Station and Its Duties" written to mark the 125th anniversary of Ethics. It engages with Sidgwick's remarks on the kind of ethical expertise that the moral philosopher possesses and on his approach to practical ethics generally.
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  20. Henry Parkes [Book Review].Maggie Catterall - 2013 - Agora (History Teachers' Association of Victoria) 48 (1):56.
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  21. Metaphysics, Epistemology, Utilitarianism, Intuitionism, and Egoism: A Response to Phillips on Sidgwick.Roger Crisp - 2013 - Revue D’Études Benthamiennes 12.
    The shape of contemporary ethics owes a great deal to Henry Sidgwick, through his influence on Rawls, Parfit, and others. No one who reads David Phillips’s outstanding book can be left in the slightest doubt about Sidgwick’s continuing significance for both metaethics and normative ethics. Phillips’s scholarship and his substantive arguments are powerful and insightful, and I find them largely persuasive. So in these remarks I intend merely to raise a few questions about each of his four main..
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  22. Possession or Insanity?: Two Views From the Victorian Lunatic Asylum.Anthony Ossa-Richardson - 2013 - Journal of the History of Ideas 74 (4):553-575.
  23. Replies to Crisp, Shaver and Skelton.David Phillips - 2013 - Revue D’Études Benthamiennes 12.
    It is a great privilege to have one’s work critiqued by such a distinguished trio of philosophers and Sidgwick scholars. I owe further debts to Anthony and Rob, who were the OUP referees for my book. As will have been quite evident from the preceding discussion, they would not want to be held responsible for the book’s detailed contents, on which they gave me much excellent commentary. But, in thanking them here, I do want to say in particular that it (...)
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  24. Sidgwickian Ethics – An Overview.David Phillips - 2013 - Revue D’Études Benthamiennes 12.
    My aim in Sidgwickian Ethics is to interpret and evaluate the central argument of The Methods of Ethics, in a way that brings out the important conceptual and historical connections between Sidgwick’s views and contemporary moral philosophy. Sidgwick defines a “method of ethics” as “any rational procedure by which we determine what individual human beings ‘ought’ – or what it is ‘right’ for them – to do, or to seek to realise by voluntary action” (ME 1). He finds just three (...)
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  25. Sidgwick.Bart Schultz - 2013 - In Roger Crisp (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter discusses the life and ethical philosophy of Henry Sidgwick. His masterpiece, The Methods of Ethics, first published in 1874, marks the culmination of the classical and nontheological utilitarian tradition, which took ‘the greatest happiness’ as the fundamental normative demand. Sidgwick was also a reformer who always advocated education as the crucial issue for historical progress, in ethics, economics, politics, and other areas. His practical ethics, often only indirectly utilitarian, involved finding common ground despite foundational ethical differences, and that (...)
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  26. Utilitarianism and Egoism in Sidgwickian Ethics.Robert Shaver - 2013 - Revue D’Études Benthamiennes 12.
    In his excellent Sidgwickian Ethics, David Phillips argues that Sidgwick’s argument for utilitarianism from the axioms is less successful than Sidgwick believes. He also argues that Sidgwick’s argument for egoism is more successful than this argument for utilitarianism. I disagree. I close by noting, briefly, a possible solution to an epistemological puzzle in Sidgwick that Phillips raises. I. Utilitarianism Phillips takes the argument for utilitarianism to have two premises: The good of...
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  27. Sidgwickian Ethics (Review).Robert Shaver - 2013 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 51 (1):136-137.
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  28. Sidgwick’s Argument for Utilitarianism and His Moral Epistemology: A Reply to David Phillips.Anthony Skelton - 2013 - Revue d'Etudes Benthamiennes 12.
    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 (...)
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  29. Symposium on David Phillips's Sidgwickian Ethics: Introduction.Anthony Skelton - 2013 - Revue d'Etudes Benthamiennes 12.
    This is a brief introduction to a symposium on David Phillips's Sidgwickian Ethics.
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  30. Sense and Sensibility in Kant's Practical Agent: Against the Intellectualism of Korsgaard and Sidgwick.Julian Wuerth - 2013 - European Journal of Philosophy 21 (1):1-36.
    Drawing on a wide range of Kant's recorded thought beyond his Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, this essay presents an overview of Kant's account of practical agency as embodied practical agency and argues against the intellectualized interpretations of Kant's account of practical agency presented by Christine Korsgaard and Henry Sidgwick. In both Kant's empirical-psychological and metaphysical descriptions of practical agency, he presents a recognizably human practical agent that is broader and deeper than the faculty of reason alone. This agent (...)
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  31. Elizabeth Anscombe on Consequentialism and Absolute Prohibitions.Sergio Cremaschi - 2012 - Danish Yearbook of Philosophy 47 (1):7-39.
    I discuss the third of Anscombe’s theses from “Modern Moral Philosophy”, namely that post-Sidgwickian consequentialism makes the worst action acceptable. I scrutinize her comprehension of “consequentialism”, her reconstruction of Sidgwick’s view of intention, her defence of casuistry, her reformulation of the double-effect doctrine, and her view of morality as based on Divine commands. I argue that her characterization of consequentialism suffers from lack of understanding of the history of utilitarianism and its self-transformation through the Intuitionism-Utilitarianism controversy; that she uncritically accepted (...)
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  32. The Objectivity of Ethics and the Unity of Practical Reason.Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek & Peter Singer - 2012 - Ethics 123 (1):9-31.
    Evolutionary accounts of the origins of human morality may lead us to doubt the truth of our moral judgments. Sidgwick tried to vindicate ethics from this kind of external attack. However, he ended The Methods in despair over another problem—an apparent conflict between rational egoism and universal benevolence, which he called the “dualism of practical reason.” Drawing on Sidgwick, we show that one way of defending objectivity in ethics against Sharon Street’s recent evolutionary critique also puts us in a position (...)
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  33. Sidgwick and the Morality of Purity.Francesco Orsi - 2012 - Revue d'Etudes Benthamiennes 10 (10).
    The aim of this work is to bring analytically to light Sidgwick’s complex views on sexual morality. Sidgwick saw nothing intrinsically, self-evidently, and even derivatively wrong in getting sexual pleasure for its own sake. However, the overall consequences of attempting to modify common sense in matters of sexual ethics seemed to him to be worse, at his time, than retaining the moral category of purity. Sidgwick’s view is then contrasted with John Stuart Mill’s, whom he directly mentions in this connection. (...)
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  34. SIDGWICK, Henry. História da ética.Juliane Scariot - 2012 - Conjectura: Filosofia E Educação 17 (3):170-174.
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  35. Underivative Duty: British Moral Philosophers From Sidgwick to Ewing.Bart Schultz - 2012 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (6):1223-1226.
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  36. Book Reviews Phillips , David . Sidgwickian Ethics New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. Xii+163. $65.00 (Cloth).Bart Schultz - 2012 - Ethics 123 (1):174-179.
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  37. Atti del secondo Congresso internazionale su Henry Sidgwick: etica, psichica, politica.Placido Bucolo, Roger Crisp & Bart Schultz (eds.) - 2011 - Universita degli Studi di Catania.
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  38. As Boys Pursue the Rainbow. Whewell’s Independent Morality Vs. Sidgwick’s Dogmatic Intuitionism.Sergio Volodia Marcello Cremaschi - 2011 - In Placido Bucolo, Roger Crisp & Bart Schultz (eds.), Proceedings of the Second World Congress on Henry Sidgwick. Ethics, Psychics, Politics. Catania, Italy: CUECM. pp. 146-235.
    I discuss Whewell’s philosophy of morality, as opposed to systematic morality, not unlike Kant’s distinction between a pure and an empirical moral philosophy. Whewell worked out a systematization of traditional normative ethics as a first step before its rational justification; he believed that the point in the philosophy of morality is justifying a few rational truths about the structure of morality such as to rule hedonism, eudemonism, and consequentialism; yet a system of positive morality cannot be derived solely from such (...)
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  39. Pleasure and Hedonism in Sidgwick.Roger Crisp - 2011 - In Thomas Hurka (ed.), Underivative Duty: British Moral Philosophers From Sidgwick to Ewing. Oxford University Press.
  40. Common Themes From Sidgwick to Ewing.Thomas Hurka - 2011 - In Underivative Duty: British Moral Philosophers From Sidgwick to Ewing. Oxford University Press.
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  41. Underivative Duty: British Moral Philosophers From Sidgwick to Ewing.Thomas Hurka (ed.) - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
    These ten new essays by leading contemporary philosophers constitute the first collective study of a group of British moral philosophers active between the ...
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  42. Sidgwick and Contemporary Utilitarianism.Mariko Nakano-Okuno - 2011 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    A rare academic study on what John Rawls, Peter Singer, and Derek Parfit acknowledge as the finest book in ethics -- The Methods of Ethics. With a rather shocking conclusion that "none of us can match Sidgwick," Mariko Nakano-Okuno lucidly analyzes Henry Sidgwick's impacts on contemporary ethics.
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  43. On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
    This is a major work in moral philosophy, the long-awaited follow-up to Parfit's 1984 classic Reasons and Persons, a landmark of twentieth-century philosophy. Parfit now presents a powerful new treatment of reasons and a critical examination of the most prominent systematic moral theories, leading to his own ground-breaking conclusion.
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  44. Sidgwickian Ethics.David Phillips - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
    Introduction -- Sidgwick's metaethics -- Sidgwick's moral epistemology -- Utilitarianism versus dogmatic intuitionism -- Utilitarianism versus egoism.
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  45. Sidgwick on Promises.David Phillips - 2011 - In Hanoch Sheinman (ed.), Promises and Agreements: Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press.
    Sidgwick believes that his own proto-utilitarian axioms satisfy criteria for self-evidence, while the principles of common sense morality, including the principle requiring fidelity to promises, do not. I articulate Sidgwick's argument for this claim, in Book III of the Methods, but suggest that it fails: its official version is vulnerable to a charge of unfairness, and its unofficial version cannot establish Sidgwick's view against Ross's.
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  46. Outlines of the History of Ethics for English Readers.Henry Sidgwick - 2011 - Cambridge University Press.
    One of the most influential of the Victorian philosophers, Henry Sidgwick was the author of the masterpiece of utilitarianism, The Methods of Ethics. He also made important contributions to fields such as economics, political theory, and classics. An active champion of higher education for women, he founded Cambridge's Newnham College in 1871. He attended Rugby School and then Trinity College, Cambridge, where he remained his whole career. In 1859 he accepted a lectureship in classics, and held this post for ten (...)
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  47. Utilitarian Practical Ethics: Sidgwick and Singer.Anthony Skelton - 2011 - In Placido Bucolo, Roger Crisp & Bart Schultz (eds.), Henry Sidgwick: Ethics, Psychics, and Politics. Catania: University of Catania Press.
    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 (...)
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  48. The Invention of Altruism: Making Moral Meanings in Victorian Britain. [REVIEW]Leslie Armour - 2010 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 18 (2):351-354.
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  49. Secrecy in Consequentialism: A Defence of Esoteric Morality.Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek & Peter Singer - 2010 - Ratio 23 (1):34-58.
    Sidgwick's defence of esoteric morality has been heavily criticized, for example in Bernard Williams's condemnation of it as 'Government House utilitarianism.' It is also at odds with the idea of morality defended by Kant, Rawls, Bernard Gert, Brad Hooker, and T.M. Scanlon. Yet it does seem to be an implication of consequentialism that it is sometimes right to do in secret what it would not be right to do openly, or to advocate publicly. We defend Sidgwick on this issue, and (...)
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  50. Some Further Thoughts on Sidgwick's Epistemology.John Deigh - 2010 - Utilitas 22 (1):78-89.
    This article is a reply to Anthony Skelton's . Professor Skelton, in his article, makes several objections to the account of Sidgwick's epistemology I presented in my earlier article . I answer these objections by further explaining my account.
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