R. M. Hare, one of the most influential moral philosophers of the twentieth century, presents a definitive summary of his fundamental views on ethics, incorporating a critical taxonomy of rival ethical theories. Sorting Out Ethics is a characteristically lucid and lively guide to the subject and Hare's place in it.
R.M. Hare is one of the most widely discussed of today's moral philosophers. In this volume he has collected a number of essays, including one which is previously unpublished, which fill in the theoretical background of his thought. Each essay is self-contained, but together they give a connected picture of his views on such questions as the objectivity and rationality of moral thinking, the issue between the ethical realists and their opponents, the place in our moral thought of appeals to (...) common convictions, and how to tell whether a feature of a situation is morally relevant. (shrink)
This article discusses the definition of slavery as a status in society and a relation to an owner. an imaginary case in which utilitarian arguments could justify slavery. this case, just because it is highly unlikely to occur in the actual world, does not provide an argument against utilitarianism. if it did occur, slavery would be justified in this case, but that is no reason for abandoning our intuitive principle condemning slavery. the adoption of this principle has in the actual (...) world a good utilitarian justification. slavery is wrong because in the world of men as they are it will almost always cause misery. (shrink)
… the supreme end, the happiness of all mankind. The law concerning punishment is a Categorical Imperative; and woe to him who rummages around in the winding paths of a theory of happiness, looking for some advantage to be gained by releasing the criminal from punishment or by reducing the amount of it.
R.M. Hare is well known both for his fundamental work in ethical theory and for his applications of it to practical issues. For this volume he has selected the best of his writings on medical ethics and related topics. The book's chief theoretical interest lies in its synthesis between utilitarian and Kantian ethics, which are shown to have the same practical consequences. The main practical thesis in the book is that we can harm possible people by preventing them from becoming (...) actual people. This thesis, if understood and accepted, would radically alter the terms of the public debate about embryo experimentation and population policy, and (perhaps surprisingly) support a fairly liberal view on abortion. There are also general introductions to medical and psychiatric ethics, and essays on the concept of health, on the morality of experimentation on children, on health care policy, on free will, and on vegetarianism. (shrink)
Many practical issues in medical ethics depend on an understanding of the concept of health. The main question is whether it is a purely descriptive or a partly evaluative or normative concept. After posing some puzzles about the concept, the views of C Boorse, who thinks it is descriptive, are discussed and difficulties are found for them. An evaluative treatment is then suggested, and used to shed light on some problems about mental illness and to compare and contrast it with (...) physical illness and with political and other deviancies which are not illnesses. (shrink)
In this volume, R. M. Hare has collected a number of essays which fill in the theoretical background of his thought and which together give an overall picture of his views on a variety of questions. Each essay is self-contained, and topics covered include the objectivity and rationality of moral thinking, the issue between the ethical realists and their opponents, the place in our moral thought of appeals to common convictions, and how to tell whether a feature of a situation (...) is morally relevant. His central theme is the paradox that, if moral judgements were just statements of fact, relativism would be inescapable. We can treat moral thinking as a rational activity only because moral judgements are more than this. (shrink)
The bulk of this volume consists of a somewhat revised version of the Axel Hägerström Lectures given in Uppsala, Sweden in 1991. It also contains previously published papers on the relevance of philosophy of language to ethics and the interpretation of Kant’s moral philosophy. The latter, in particular, deserves comment, but space considerations force me to devote my attention to the Hägerström Lectures, entitled “A Taxonomy of Ethical Theories.”.
R. M. Hare has brought together in this volume the best of his uncollected essays in moral philosophy, several of them previously unpublished or revised for this collection. They span the whole range of his ethical interests, from the most abstract to the most down-to-earth. The volume provides a compelling demonstration of Hare's commitment to bringing together the theoretical and the practical in ethics.
This volume addresses a wide variety of moral concerns regarding slavery as an institutionalized social practice. By considering the slave's critical appropriation of the natural rights doctrine, the ambiguous implications of various notions of consent and liberty are examined. The authors assume that, although slavery is undoubtedly an evil social practice, its moral assessment stands in need of a more nuanced treatment. They address the question of what is wrong with slavery by critically examining, and in some cases endorsing, certain (...) principles derived from communitarianism, paternalism, utilitarianism, and jurisprudence. (shrink)
I had a strange dream, or half-waking vision, not long ago. I found myself at the top of a mountain in the mist, feeling very pleased with myself, not just for having climbed the mountain, but for having achieved my life's ambition, to find a way of answering moral questions rationally. But as I was preening myself on this achievement, the mist began to clear, and I saw that I was surrounded on the mountain top by the graves of all (...) those other philosophers, great and small, who had had the same ambition, and thought they had achieved it. And I have come to see, reflecting on my dream, that, ever since, the hard-working philosophical worms have been nibbling away at their systems and showing that the achievement was an illusion. True, their skeletons, indigestible to worms, remained, and were surprisingly similar to one another. But I was led to think again about what one can, and what one cannot, achieve in this direction. (shrink)