Changes in American society have brought both increased concern for solving practical problems and decreased concern for whether foundational ethical theory can be, or needs to be, understood when solving them. A systematic study of newly established institutes of applied ethics reveals that the directors of all of them claim that ethical theory, or knowledge of the ultimate bases for moral appeals inherent in human nature, is not necessary for proposing solutions. Quotations from claims of directors of five prominent institutes (...) are cited as evidence for the thesis that teaching applied ethics without teaching theoretical foundations of ethics is the main line policy today. (shrink)
The author rejects the main-line policy that business ethics can be taught better by ignoring theoretical foundations and the excuse that several alternative theories are available for appeal if one cares to consult them. He proposes recognizing enlightened self-interest as the theory already practiced by persons and groups, implicitly when not explicitly, and that frank recognition that it is presupposed will encourage more intelligent solutions because this will direct attention to needs for enlightenment of many kinds. Deliberate pursuit of enlightenment (...) — general, specific and particular — should result in greater achievement and, when achieved, in increased reliability of solutions. (shrink)
This book makes a forceful case for the scientific aspirations of ethics and for the necessity of ethics to our humanity. It is written as a challenge to those who are reluctant to recognize that science can deal decisively with questions in ethical theory. It throws new light on group responsibilities, apparent oughtness, and the responsibility we have for expanding our awareness of responsibilities.