Sidgwick, Origen, and the Reconciliation of Egoism and Morality

Etica E Politica 10 (2):42-71 (2008)

Tim Mulgan
University of Auckland
Many themes of late twentieth century ethics are prefigured in Sidgwick’s Method of Ethics. In particular, Sidgwick’s ‘Dualism of Practical Reason’ sets the scene for current debates over the demands of morality. Many philosophers agree that Sidgwick uncovers a deep and troubling conflict at the heart of utilitarian ethics. But Sidgwick’s own response to that conflict is treated, not as a live philosophical option, but as a historical oddity. In the twenty-first century, few philosophers see the intimate connection between the dualism of practical reason and the investigation of psychic phenomena that played such a large role in Sidgwick’s life. The aim of this paper is to investigate Sidgwick’s own approach to the dualism of practical reason. Its general conclusion is that a non-dualistic morality demands less than a theistic religion, contrary to what Sidgwick worried - especially as concerns personal immortality and freedom
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