The Methods of Ethics

Front Cover
Hackett Publishing, 1981 - Philosophy - 528 pages

This Hackett edition, first published in 1981, is an unabridged and unaltered republication of the seventh (1907) edition as published by Macmillan and Company, Limited.

From the forward by John Rawls:

In the utilitarian tradition Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900) has an important place. His fundamental work, The Methods of Ethics (first edition 1874, seventh and last edition 1907, here reprinted), is the clearest and most accessible formulation of what we may call 'the classical utilitarian doctorine.' This classical doctrine holds that the ultimate moral end of social and individual action is the greatest net sum of the happiness of all sentient beings. Happinesss is specified (as positive or negative) by the net balance of pleasure over pain, or, as Sidgwick preferred to say, as the net balance of agreeable over disagreeable consciousness. . . .

 

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

This book renders a wonderful exposition with lucid analysis that covers most of the issues of ethics. Not only is it useful for a newbie, but also for one who has come a long way from that position, to deal with the serious ethical issues of the time. Even it can be taken as a point of departure for whom who is ready to mingle with the issues related to the applied ethics, i.e., the problems discussed in Business Ethics, Environmental Ethics, Medical Ethics etc.
Biswanath Swain
Research Scholar in Philosophy
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
biswanath80@gmail.com
 

Contents

CHAPTER I
1
still it is impossible to me in acting not to regard myself as free to PAGES
3
that there is a similar liability to error in appropriating the
7
or when circumstances have materially altered since it was made
8
CHAPTER II
15
define these rules 430439
22
7172
71
CHAPTER VI
77
and this social order may itself from another point of view be
271
In considering the relation between Ethics and Politics we have
278
Nor does the realisation of Freedom satisfy our common conception
279
or Ill Desert in order to realise Criminal Justice There remains
290
nor as to the criterion of a traditionally legitimate government 297299
297
The duty of fulfilling a promise in the sense in which it was under
304
of which the characteristic is that it lays down certain absolute
312
CHAPTER XIV
319

CHAPTER VII
89
CHAPTER VIII
96
stituting for right the wider potion good 105106
105
but
113
EGOISM
119
pleasure being defined as feeling apprehended as desirable by
129
CHAPTER III
131
CHAPTER IV
151
CHAPTER V
162
but we have no practically available general theory of these causes
180
or biological 190192
190
CHAPTER 1
199
It is certainly an essential condition that we should not believe
207
The existence of apparent cognitions of right conduct intuitively
214
The common conception of Wisdom assumes a harmony of the ends
231
CHAPTER IV
238
A similar result is reached by an examination singly and together
243
as claims may conflict but clearly binding rules cannot be obtained
246
and the wider duties of Neighbourhood Citizeuship Universal
254
CHAPTER V
264
CHAPTER VIII
320
CHAPTER IX
327
CHAPTER X
332
Common Sense 8 The maxims of Wisdom and Selfcontrol are only selfevident in so 338343
338
The maxims of Wisdom and selfcontrol are only selfevident in
345
nor can we state any clear absolute universallyadmitted axioms
349
and even the Duty of Good Faith when we consider the numerous
352
even the prohibition of Suicide so
355
The notion of Virtue as commonly conceived cannot without
391
origin of the Moral Sentiinents 411413
411
CHAPTER II
418
generally felicific when the special acts that have resulted from
426
and in the case of other virtues 448450
448
On the Utilitarian view the relation between Ethics and Politics
457
At the same time it seems idle to try to construct such a code
467
CHAPTER V
475
CONCLUDING CHAPTER
496
but its existence cannot be demonstrated by ethical arguments
506
INDEX
517
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1981)

Born at Skipton, Yorkshire, Henry Sidgwick studied at Trinity College, Cambridge University, where he was appointed a fellow in 1859. In 1869 he resigned his fellowship when growing religious doubts led him to decide that he could no longer subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Anglican church (as fellows were required to do). He was subsequently reappointed when the religious requirements were abolished, becoming professor of moral philosophy in 1883 and continuing to teach at Trinity College until his death. Sidgwick was active in many fields: education, classics, literature, political theory, and history as well as philosophy. He was interested in the cause of women's education and was instrumental in the founding of Newnham College for women at Cambridge. Sidgwick's most important contributions to philosophy lie in the field of ethics, and his most important work is Methods of Ethics (1874). In ethical theory, he was a proponent of utilitarianism; he is generally regarded as the third great representative of that position, along with Bentham and John Stuart Mill (see also Vols. 1 and 3). He rejected the empiricism on which earlier utilitarians had grounded their theory and displayed much greater complexity and sophistication in treating the psychology of moral motivation. In political theory, Sidgwick was more conservative than either Bentham or Mill.

John Rawls, professor of philosophy at Harvard University, had published a number of articles on the concept of justice as fairness before the appearance of his magnum opus, A Theory of Justice (1971). While the articles had won for Rawls considerable prestige, the reception of his book thrust him into the front ranks of contemporary moral philosophy. Presenting a Kantian alternative to conventional utilitarianism and intuitionism, Rawls offers a theory of justice that is contractual and that rests on principles that he alleges would be accepted by free, rational persons in a state of nature, that is, of equality. The chorus of praise was loud and clear. Stuart Hampshire acclaimed the book as "the most substantial and interesting contribution to moral philosophy since the war."H. A. Bedau declared: "As a work of close and original scholarship in the service of the dominant moral and political ideology of our civilization, Rawls's treatise is simply without a rival." Rawls historically achieved two important things: (1) He articulated a coherent moral philosophy for the welfare state, and (2) he demonstrated that analytic philosophy was most capable of doing constructive work in moral philosophy. A Theory of Justice has become the most influential work in political, legal, and social philosophy by an American author in the twentieth century.

Bibliographic information