John Wilson (auth.)'s A Preface to Morality PDF

By John Wilson (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0333439929

ISBN-13: 9780333439920

ISBN-10: 1349189340

ISBN-13: 9781349189342

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It is, actually, rather hard to saycertainly at this level of generality- just what dispositions would survive adherence to a thoroughgoing utilitarian doctrine; and if someone were to say that (for instance) some saintly person who devoted his life to famine relief, or medicine, or some other enterprise which utilitarianism seemed to demand of him (because 'Absolutism' and 'Consequentialism' 43 that was where he could do most good) could not be 'generous, affectionate, forceful, resolute, creative and actually happy', one would wonder what sense he attributed to those terms.

Or 'Is it reasonable/rational to believe ... ', depending on whether we refer the questions (and the words in them) to the public criteria of science or to the other criteria which operate in my particular case. Neither set of answers seems ultimately satisfactory. For (1) of course we want to say (a) that in general the public criteria should be overriding - we want to ensure and enforce these criteria for belief as a permanent public institution; but we seem forced to admit (b) that no such criteria- not even those that might come under the heading of 'logic' or 'consistency' should always be overriding.

If there were some kind of psychological training which enabled the child a temporary escape or cut-out from justice or altruism in such 50 Behaving Towards Others cases- not too unbelievable a possibility- presumably we ought to adopt it. This criticism, though not decisive as it stands, shows just how counter-intuitive such a line of argument is; and it is not clear that this is because 'our intuitions are not even utilitarian, let alone egoistic' (p. 250). It is, I think, because we dimly feel, along with the Plato or Socrates of the Republic, that there are internal reasons, reasons connected with what it is to be a sane person with a meaningful life, why amoralism or egoism is not satisfactory ('imprudent' is not the right word here).

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A Preface to Morality by John Wilson (auth.)


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