ANNEX 3: Russell's Humean Wobble: Human Society in Ethics and Politics

Russell’s Human Society is a fun book to read, but meta-ethically it is a bit of a mess. There is much wit and some wisdom, though both the wit and the wisdom are more conspicuous when he is discussing human nature and human society than when he is discussing the finer points of ethical theory. (I particularly like his frequent complaints that human behavior seldom rises to the level of enlightened self-interest. If only we could manage to be intelligently selfish, the world would be a much better place.) The drift of the argument is sometimes difficult to discern, partly because of has frequent digressions to make bon mots, and partly because of his dialectical method of presentation, which approaches what he takes to be the truth via a series of successive approximations. Human Society in Ethics and Politics was published in 1954, but the meta-ethical bits were originally written some years earlier and intended for inclusion in Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits, (1948). Russell held them back because he was not sure whether ethical propositions rose to the dignity of knowledge. He continued to be doubtful about this, but by the early 1950s his doubts had sufficiently dissipated for publication to become a possibility. Nevertheless, there are marked analogies between the two books. Human Knowledge attempts to establish the existence of a mindindependent world on the basis of private perceptions. Human Society attempts to establish an ethic that is in some degree independent of individual minds on the basis of subjective sentiments
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,422
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Shaoping Gan (2009). Human Dignity as a Right. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (3):370-384.
Wang Xinyan (2006). Globalization and Common Human Interests. The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 9:173-177.
David M. Messick (2004). Human Nature and Business Ethics. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics 2004:129-133.
Vasil Gluchman (2008). Human Dignity and its Non-Utilitarian Consequentialist Aspects. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 10:127-133.
Georgia Apostolopoulou (2007). Toward a Hermeneutic Anthropology of Human Rights. The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 3:151-156.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

22 ( #213,849 of 1,924,768 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #308,315 of 1,924,768 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.