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Schneewind Moral Philosophy Essay

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Essays on the History of Moral Philosophy

2010.07.30 Essays on the History of Moral Philosophy Reviewed by T.H. Irwin, University of Oxford

Readers of Jerome Schneewind's major works on the history of moral philosophy will be pleased to see this selection from his essays. While some of them are well known, others will be unfamiliar to many readers. The essays are ordered in sections that correspond approximately to different phases of Schneewind's work. The four main sections are 'Victorian Matters' (Part II), 'On the Historiography of Moral Philosophy' (Part III), 'Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Moral Philosophy' (Part IV), and 'On Kant' (Part V).

Part II includes an illuminating essay ('Moral problems and moral philosophy in the Victorian period') that represents Schneewind's interest in literature and its philosophical aspects. It is a useful supplement to his early work Backgrounds of English Victorian Literature (1970).

Readers will also benefit from the full list of Schneewind's publications, which shows how much has been omitted from this volume. Some of the omitted items have been largely absorbed in The Invention of Autonomy. but many of them deserve attention in their own right. I especially missed the important essays on Pufendorf.

It would be difficult for a review to summarize these elegant and instructive essays. And it would be difficult to pick out some essays for discussion, since most of them, including the most important, raise questions that are examined at greater length in Schneewind's two long books. But a reader of these essays may be encouraged to reflect on some themes that recur in many of the essays and on the approach and assumptions that guide the author's approach to the history of ethics.

In his preface Schneewind mentions his extended reflexion on, and confrontation with, the work of Alasdair MacIntyre. One of his earlier publications is a favourable review of MacIntyre's Short History of Ethics. and some of the points that he selects for praise and for criticism in MacIntyre point to some of the characteristics of Schneewind's work. On the one hand, he praises MacIntyre's exposition of different philosophers in relation to their social and historical circumstances; this method of exposition has been a hallmark of Schneewind's work as well. On the other hand, he criticizes MacIntyre for excessive attention to Greek ethics, and, in keeping with this criticism, his own work has always displayed markedly limited sympathy for the Greek moralists. On these points Schneewind's attitude remains stable in his later work. The Augustinian and Thomist developments in MacIntyre's later work correspond to nothing in Schneewind's later development.

But if Schneewind's outlook is stable on these points, it also seems to have developed in other ways. He certainly places Sidgwick in his historical context, and specifically in the philosophical and theological controversies of Victorian England. But the historical conclusions are not used to cast any doubt on the timeless philosophical significance of Sidgwick's utilitarianism. On the contrary, Schneewind expounds Sidgwick sympathetically, and defends him against some of his early critics. We get the impression that Sidgwick is worth reading partly because he offers a detailed statement and defence of a version of utilitarianism that a moral philosopher ought to take seriously. Nor does Schneewind express any doubts about Sidgwick's firmly objectivist views in meta-ethics.

Similarly, Schneewind does not dissent from Sidgwick's views on the history of ethics. Sidgwick holds a timeless view in so far as he takes the views of past moralists to be open to evaluation as attempts to grasp truths about ethics that are not relative to a particular society or historical situation. According to Sidgwick, we can trace in the history of ethics the main methods of ethics that he discusses in Methods. and reflexion on the views of past philosophers will reveal the inadequacy of the methods he rejects and the superiority of the method he accepts. This interpretation of the history of ethics underlies both Sidgwick's Methods and his Short History of Ethics.

One might, then, reasonably suppose that Schneewind's book on Sidgwick shares Sidgwick's approach to the history of ethics. Schneewind examines the controversies among Sidgwick's immediate predecessors, whom Sidgwick does not usually confront directly. He argues that Sidgwick's contribution to these controversies marks an advance on the work of Whewell and others. On this point Schneewind defends Sidgwick's view of his place in the history of ethics.

In some ways the outlook of The Invention of Autonomy is similar. Here Kant replaces Sidgwick as the central figure, and Kant's moral philosophy is the decisive advance in the history of ethics.

According to Barbeyrac, Grotius marked the age 'where in the science of morality was, if I may so say, raised again from the dead'. This is an exaggeration of Schneewind's view of Grotius, but it corresponds approximately to the narrative of Invention. with some important differences. In Schneewind's view, moral philosophy was alive, but imprisoned by the theologians, until Grotius released it (Invention 82). Grotius was the starting-point for Pufendorf's reflexions on natural law, and Pufendorf 'raised questions that Kant eventually thought he had to answer' (175).

In this respect Kant completes the process initiated by Grotius. The Grotian version of natural-law theory is relevant to a situation in which we have to 'handle serious disagreements among equals' (200). An Aristotelian theory is irrelevant or unhelpful in this sort of situation because 'it must treat disagreement with the virtuous agent as showing a flaw of character', and because 'it encourages each … to impugn the character of the other rather than listen to the other's case' (200).

It is reasonable for Schneewind to make Kant the central figure of his history; for he believes that 'his [sc. Kant's] conception of morality as autonomy provides a better place to start working out a contemporary philosophical understanding of morality than anything we can get from other past philosophers' (Invention xiv). Just as Sidgwick answers the questions raised by his 18th-and 19th-century predecessors, Kant answers the questions raised in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Apparently, then, Schneewind's treatments of Sidgwick and Kant express the same conviction about moral philosophy as a progressive discipline. His two long books seem to present two periods in the history of ethics as periods of philosophical progress. They might also appear to reflect some change of mind about what counts as genuine progress; for the judgment that I quoted about Kant suggests that Kant is superior to Sidgwick, and that some of Schneewind's earlier judgments on Sidgwick might need to be revised.

But at any rate this conception of the progressive character of moral philosophy is not alien to Sidgwick. We might, therefore, expect Schneewind's conception of the history of moral philosophy to reveal agreement with Sidgwick.

This, however, is not exactly what we find. The essays on historiography are intended to cast doubt on 'the supposition that there is enough significant continuity in the concerns of moral philosophers to warrant discussions of progress and regress in the discipline' (107). Supporters of this supposition are said to believe in a 'single aim' of moral philosophers throughout history. In opposition to the belief in a single aim Schneewind maintains that Aristotle, Sidgwick, the Stoics, Hobbes, Bentham, and Parfit have different aims (120-1). He argues that these different aims make it futile to treat the Socratic question 'How should one live?' as a sufficiently determinate statement of the single aim of moral philosophy (120).

Schneewind is right to say that the aims of moral philosophers have differed. But people who have different aims can also share a single aim. Different members of a football team may have different aims, if they play the game for different reasons, but they still play the same game, with its constitutive aims, and their playing can be evaluated without reference to their ulterior reasons for playing it.

But even if Schneewind were to concede this point, he would still not be satisfied, because he has a further objection to a single-aim outlook:

The historian will have a further problem with this outlook. It implies that since we and past moral philosophers share aims and goals, the best way to understand the work of our predecessors is to look at them in the light of our own view of the truth about morality … The historian will complain that insistence on describing the views of past thinkers in our own terminology forces us into anachronism. If we are interested in what our predecessors were doing and thinking, we must try to understand them in terms they themselves had available. (121-2)

Schneewind seems to argue, on behalf of the 'historian', that a single-aim outlook encourages truth-based evaluation of past philosophers (i.e. evaluation in the light of our views of the truth about morality), and that truth-based evaluation is necessarily anachronistic.

This complaint of the 'historian' is difficult to understand. Perhaps Schneewind wants to remind us that we should, among other things, try to understand our predecessors in their own terms. But that reminder does not conflict with understanding through truth-based evaluation. The attitude of the 'historian' conflicts with truth-based evaluation only if it claims that the only legitimate way to understand our predecessors is to use their own terms.

Such a claim, however, is implausible. If Nepalese climbers in 1500 climbed to the top of Mount Everest, they reached the summit of the highest mountain in the world. This is a true statement of their achievement whether or not they knew or believed that this was the highest mountain in the world. We might judge them remarkably skilful climbers; the truth of this judgment would not depend on whether they thought of themselves as climbers. Similarly, it is difficult to see why we cannot legitimately attribute an achievement to past philosophers who did not consciously aim at achieving that result.

Schneewind explains his objections to anachronism by remarking truly that we cannot suppose Hume intended to anticipate Bentham, or that he intended to formulate a rule-utilitarian theory of justice. It does not follow, however, that he did not achieve these results.

Schneewind has a further defence of the 'historian'. Though he concedes that we may legitimately describe Hume with reference to his achievements, he observes that such a description is not history:

We may have good reasons for thinking of his theory in terms like these, but we are not, in so doing, giving an historical account of it. Worse, we may be overlooking its historical distinctiveness by forcing it into our own molds. (122)

This seems a rather arbitrarily narrow use of 'historical'. If we say that the attitude of Britain and the USA to the Peace of Versailles aided the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany, we are not saying that anyone in Britain and the USA intended to aid the rise of the Nazi Party; but what we say may still be true or worth discussing, and we would not be surprised to see such a statement in a history of the 1920s.

It is difficult, therefore, to see why historians of philosophy should impose on themselves a restriction that other historians do not accept. If they did accept it, their histories would be less interesting. If Schneewind simply intends to stipulate a sense for 'historical' here, without reference to the practice of historians, his point is more trivial than he seems to intend.

The warning in the second sentence of the quotation is reasonable. We may miss something about Hume if we do not think about his intentions. But it seems excessive to abstain from asking a reasonable question about achievements simply because questions about intentions are also reasonable.

Perhaps Schneewind does not mean to reject truth-based evaluation of achievements, but only means to supplement it with inquiries into intentions. But this moderate interpretation of his claims seems to leave out something that he wants to say. For he seems to doubt the legitimacy of truth-based evaluation, not just the preoccupation with it to the exclusion of other reasonable questions.

His attitude is explicable if he believes that the necessary conditions for reasonable truth-based evaluation do not obtain -- if, in other words, he believes either that there are no moral truths or that we have no cognitive access to them. Does he hold this nihilist or sceptical view?

Perhaps Schneewind's views on this question have developed. The early paper reprinted here ('Moral knowledge and moral principles') shows no trace of nihilism. Nor does he question Sidgwick's objectivism. But his later sympathetic treatment of Kant expounds Kant from a nihilist point of view. If Kant did not discover that rational agents are free, a Kantian about morality should not hold it to be true that we are autonomous. Autonomy was invented, not discovered, because the conception of rational agents as autonomous does not correspond to any fact about them.

If the Kantian conception is not true, why does it provide the best place to start working out a contemporary philosophical understanding of morality? The answer depends on the function and use of moral theories.

We will look at the enterprise of rationally examining norms and virtues as one of the tools that various societies have used to cope with different problems they faced in shaping or preserving or extending a common understanding of the terms on which their members could live with one another. (126)

The use of this particular tool expresses the hope that 'we can reformulate the problems in more manageable ways' (126; cf. 294).

This managerial and instrumental approach gives us no reason to be interested in the truth of moral doctrines and theories, unless we believe that their truth is likely to affect their managerial function. If moral fictions are at least as useful as moral truths in 'coping' and 'managing', we can ignore questions of truth. We will simply prefer Kant to other moralists because we find that his views about moral knowledge fit the anti-elitist outlook that we prefer.

If we look back at Schneewind's objections to a single-aim conception of the history of ethics, we may ask how his managerial outlook escapes these objections. He rejects truth-based evaluation of philosophers' achievements on the ground that it goes beyond the reconstruction of philosophers' intentions, and therefore does not give a 'historical account'. But his preference for the reconstruction of their intentions relies on his managerial approach; if we look at their intentions, we can see what 'problems' they and their contemporaries were 'managing' or 'coping with', and how successfully they were doing it.

This is puzzling, for two reasons: (1) Schneewind seems to agree after all that evaluation of philosophers' achievements, and not simply the reconstruction of their intentions, is a legitimate task for a historian. He objects to truth-based evaluations, but not to evaluations of degrees of managerial success; (2) he believes that the managerial approach to moral philosophy justifies attention to the aims and intentions of past philosophers. But it seems to give only a partial justification. Even if we are not Marxists, we might suppose that some philosophers' aims and intentions give a very imperfect idea of the problems they were trying (not necessarily consciously trying) to solve. If our study of the history of ethics were guided by a managerial approach, it would not easily justify Schneewind's preferred method.

Would a history of ethics that consistently reflected the managerial approach be better than the sort of history that Schneewind has offered us? I doubt it. Schneewind does not explicate the relevant notions of 'coping' and 'managing', and one may doubt whether they could be explicated enough to do useful theoretical work.

Should we, for instance, regard the French Revolution as a case of 'coping' and 'managing' (perhaps by managing to get the king out of the way), or as a sign of 'failure to cope'? Our answer might determine whether the outlook of the Enlightenment helped or hindered in the 'management' of problems faced by the Ancien Régime.

These sorts of questions have arisen about efforts to offer a functionalist and relativist account of morality. The difficulty of answering such questions has cast reasonable doubt on these efforts. Until we answer the questions, we cannot say whether morality or moral philosophy is plausibly regarded as a 'tool' for 'coping' or 'managing'.

I rather doubt whether an affirmative and non-trivial answer could be made convincing. One might present Hobbes's outlook as a tool for coping and managing England in the 1640s and 1650s. But many of his contemporaries disagreed with this view; since they took Hobbesian views to be contrary to the preservation of social life. Similarly, someone might regard Price's rationalist conception of rights as a tool for coping with the tensions in late 18 th -century Britain, but Burke has plenty to say on the other side. Who is right in these disputes? Both Hobbes and Price may hold views that tend to manage some things and undermine others, and it may be difficult to say whether the overall effect of their views is to manage or to undermine.

But even if one could answer these questions, I doubt whether the answers should matter to historians of ethics. I doubt whether success or failure as a managerial tool tells us anything about the character of moral philosophy, or about what makes one theory better than another. The actual managerial or undermining effect of a moral doctrine depends on, inter alia, who believes it, how far they act on it, what the other historical circumstances are, and so on. There is no reason why some historians should not ask these questions. When I say that they do not matter to historians of ethics, I mean that we can ask some important questions about Hobbes or Price that do not depend on who else believed them, or on how far their views were put into practice, or who opposed them. Questions about managerial effects are questions in intellectual and social history that Schneewind does not ask. He has no reason to ask them. If he had asked them, he would have written much longer books, but he might have not given any better answers to the questions he has actually asked.

These reflexions may raise a question about Schneewind's contention that we cannot write a history of moral philosophy 'without having some philosophical idea of the aims of the discipline' (122). A historian's conception of the discipline will no doubt influence the selection and presentation of questions and answers. But it is not so clear to me that an idea of the aims of the discipline is so important, or that it will necessarily determine one's approach to the history of the discipline. If Schneewind had consistently selected and organized his historical inquiries so as to fit a managerial conception of morality or moral philosophy, the unsatisfactory aspects of that conception would have become clear.

Probably, then, we should be pleased that Schneewind's later views on the nature and point of moral philosophy have not wholly pervaded his account of past moral philosophers. His two long books and his essays are unrivalled in their combination of narrative skill, historical learning, and philosophical intelligence. Both the philosopher and the intellectual historian can learn from these books and essays. Even if Schneewind does not believe moral theories can be true, and even if he holds a purely managerial conception of moral philosophy, he none the less gives us an illuminating account of philosophers who disagree with him on both points. I rather doubt whether his account would have been more illuminating if it had been more thoroughly informed by his later philosophical views.

Notre Dame. IN 46556


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Kant: Moral Theories - Kant's moral theory According to Timmons, the field of philosophy is not complete without the mention of Kant whose contributions were major (205). This, he adds, was influenced by his originality, subtle approach and the difficulty of his works. Timmons cites that moral requirements are a requirement of reason, which is the ideology of Kant’s Moral theory; hence, immoral act is an act against reason. Consequently, speaking on the terminologies of Kant we visualize moral requirements as Categorical Imperatives (CI) grounded on reason and can, therefore, get derived from a supreme moral principle. [tags: philosophy, happiness, wellfare]
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Morality - Morality Moral philosophy is very important to the success of an individual. But, before I tell you why moral philosophy is so important, and how it has helped me in my life, let me give you a little background knowledge. Rational knowledge has two components. These components are material and formal. Formal knowledge is not object oriented, and is based on reason. Formal knowledge is logic, or the laws of thought. Material knowledge is object oriented, and has two components. These two components are natural and moral. [tags: Moral Ethics Philosophy essays]

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Making Moral Decisions: The Synergistic-Reflective-Equilibrium Model - Making Moral Decisions: The Synergistic-Reflective-Equilibrium Model ABSTRACT: This treatise is a contribution towards the understanding of why humankind cannot agree on the foundation of morality and why moral pluralism is the logical constitution of moral reality. The synergistic-reflective-equilibrium model is the model that will describe how persons can make moral decisions as pluralistic agents. If this model is correct, then it will not be a new discovery, rather, it will be a new description of how pluralistic agents do in fact make moral decisions. [tags: Philosophy]
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Moral Realism - Consequentialism and deontology are two often-debated theories in regards to moral ethics. Consequentialists rely on which right decision will provide the most amount of good. Followers of deontology however, choose what is right based upon decisions regardless of the possible outcome. For instance, consequentialism as a form of utilitarianism might enable the forfeit of one to save a group whereas deontology wouldn’t allow such a move as the individuals rights are being overlooked. These theories are constantly put the test in the moral trolley and footbridge problems. [tags: Philosophy ]
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A Taxonomy of Moral Realism - A Taxonomy of Moral Realism ABSTRACT: The realist dispute in ethics has wide implications for moral ontology, epistemology, and semantics. Common opinion holds that this debate goes to the heart of the phenomenology of moral values and affects the way in which we understand the nature of moral value, moral disagreement, and moral reflection. But it has not been clearly demonstrated what is involved in moral realist theory. I provide a framework which distinguishes three different versions of the theory while at the same time showing the interrelations between them. [tags: Philosophy Philosophical Papers]

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Moral Education in the University - Moral Education in the University ABSTRACT: Does the title of the World Congress of Philosophy, Paideia: Philosophy Educating Humanity, reflect hubris, irony or a pragmatic optimism. How is it possible for philosophy to educate the human community in the twenty-first century. More specifically, at a time when few people besides academic philosophers read philosophy, in what sense can philosophy educate humanity. In this essay I examine one possible way philosophy can educate humanity advanced by Derek Bok, former president of Harvard University. [tags: Philosophy Research Papers]
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Moral Realism's Indispensability Argument - There are many arguments for moral realism, one of which is presented by David Enoch, who posits a unique explanation of how normative truths can exist. He argues for moral realism by using his Indispensability Argument, which explains the necessity of normative facts in deliberation. I will argue that Enoch’s claim is valid in that it fairs well against opposition, however it shows weakness by not addressing moral subjectivity. To begin, David Enoch defends moral realism using his Indispensability Argument. [tags: Philosophy]

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Logic and Moral Dilemmas - Logic and Moral Dilemmas ABSTRACT: Logic is of great importance for the philosophy of education. In particular, logic provides a rational and critical approach in ethics, helping us understand the nature of moral dilemmas. Some suggest that all moral dilemmas result from some kind of inconsistency in the moral rules. Unsolvable moral situations simply reflect implicit inconsistencies in our existing moral code. If we are to remain moral as well as logical, then we must restore consistency to our code. [tags: Logical Philosophy Philosophical Papers]
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Ethical and Moral Philosophies: Application to Business - Define and Discuss Philosophies’ Application to Business Business philosophy refers to application of theoretic framework to determine the manner in which a business entity deals with various forms of operation. It refers to formation and operation of a corporate entity in areas that include management, accounting, public relations, business operations, marketing, and training (Dahlsrud, 2008). Moral philosophy, on the other hand, refers to values that determine the rightness or wrongness of an action (Bartels, 2008). [tags: Ethical and Moral Philosophies]
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Ethics and Moral Development According to John Rawls and Victor Frankl - American philosopher, John Rawls, and European philosopher, Viktor Frankl, are highly regarded for their philosophical intellect. While Rawls work focused on the theory of justice, Frankl’s work were in the direction of finding meaning in life. Although, their works took to varying directions, a distinct correlation can be found in their work as it pertains to ethics and moral development. Rawls, in his works speaks of the four roles of political philosophy, which include: 1) Practical – The discovery of basis for reasoned argument. [tags: theory of justice, political philosophy]
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Moral Complexity in the Making and Keeping of Promises - The making of a promise involves the voluntary giving of one's word that, if and when a particular circumstance or situation comes about, one will undertake to act in a manner defined by the terms of the promise one has given. The act of making the promise, in other words, implies a willingness to keep it. What is being agreed is that, on the basis of something said in the past, one's future actions will, insofar as the future is foreseeable, follow a particular course and no other. On the related, but rather different question of the motivation involved in keeping a promise, it may be that the promise-maker's acting or deciding in a particular way places him in a position identical to or in. [tags: Philosophy Philosophical Essays]
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Moral Relativism - Moral relativism, as Harman describes, denies “that there are universal basic moral demands, and says different people are subject to different basic moral demands depending on the social customs, practices, conventions, and principles that they accept” (Harman, p. 85). Many suppose that moral feelings derive from sympathy and concern for others, but Harman rather believes that morality derives from agreement among people of varying powers and resources provides a more plausible explanation (Harman, p. [tags: Philosophy ]
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Moral Relativism - Relativism comes from the word “Relative” which means measured, judgment, clever or a meaning or assessment that can only be recognized and may change depending with circumstance or background. It can also be used in a way of showing that something is true to a particular degree when it is being compared with other things (Cambridge Advanced Dictionary) There are different types of relativism and can be grouped or categorized into different stages namely: Moral, Cultural Just to mention but a few. [tags: Philosophy]

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Mill’s Objection to Kant’s Moral Theory - John Stuart Mill famously criticized Immanuel Kant and his theory of the Categorical Imperative by arguing that, “[Kant] fails… to show that there would be any contradiction, any logical (not to say physical) impossibility, in the adoption by all rational beings of the most outrageously immoral rules of conduct. All he shows is that the consequences of their universal adoption would be such as no one would choose to incur.” If accurate, this is a debilitating criticism of Kant’s moral theory as he had intended it. [tags: Philosophy]
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Kant's Moral Constructivism and his Conception of Legislation - Some hold that Kant’s conception of autonomy requires the rejection of moral realism in favor of "moral constructivism." However, commentary on a little noticed passage in the Metaphysics of Morals (with the assistance of Kant’s Lectures and Reflexionen) reveals that the conception of legislation at the core of Kant’s conception of autonomy represents a decidedly anti-constructivist strand in his moral philosophy. I. Summary: the Meaning of "Kant's Moral Constructivism" A. John Rawls In A Theory of Justice, although Rawls's method of generating principles of justice from a choice in the Original Position is described as "constructive", in the sense of "helpful to settle disputes", the idea. [tags: Philosophy Kant Argumentative Argument Papers]
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Would a Moral Man Steal? - Would a moral man steal. This is a dilemma. The basic question that this boils down to is if people are good merely for the reputation or for actual moral values that they might have. I believe a truly good person would not steal for the latter, or from their own values. This is based on the idea that not all-good deeds are rewarded. It is true that if you are never given credit for doing good deeds, you might start to tire of doing them. I do not believe that the person would necessarily start to steal. [tags: Philosophy]

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Life’s Moral Character - Life’s Moral Character Virtue is a state that decides consisting in a mean, which is relative to us; it is a mean between two vices, one of excess and one of deficiency. In the book, Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle uses his collection of lecture notes to establish the best way to live and acquire happiness. According to Aristotle, to live a happy life, you must obtain these to become morally good. Defining virtue and choice with the “doctrine of the mean” will guide our choices and build up moral character. [tags: Philosophy, Nicomachean Ethics]

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The Moral Permissibility of Lying - The Moral Permissibility of Lying Missing Works Cited The question of what constitutes morality is often asked by philosophers. One might wonder why morality is so important, or why many of us trouble ourselves over determining which actions are moral actions. Mill has given an account of the driving force behind our questionings of morality. He calls this driving force “Conscience,” and from this “mass of feeling which must be broken through in order to do what violates our standard of right,” we have derived our concept of morality (Mill 496). [tags: Morals Philosophy Papers]

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Kantian Philosophy - Applying Kant’s Categorical Imperative, acting “on the maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will it should become universal law,” to Larry and Rhonda’s scenario, the right thing to do is for Rhonda to take responsibility for her actions. To illustrate, if Rhonda were to ask Larry to take the blame so that she may avoid trouble for herself, the maxim in this case, she should imagine a world where everyone asks a friend to cover for them when faced with unfortunate circumstances. The idea of a world like this is ridiculous. [tags: Categorical Imperative, Moral Pluralism]

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Self-Worth and Moral Knowledge - Self-Worth and Moral Knowledge I argue that persons are unlikely to have moral knowledge insofar as they lack certain moral virtues; that persons are commonly deficient in these virtues, and hence that they are regularly unlikely to have adequate moral knowledge. I propose a version of this argument that employs a broad conception of self-worth, a virtue found in a wide range of moral traditions that suppose a person would have an appropriate sense of self-worth in the face of tendencies both to overestimate and underestimate the value of one’s self. [tags: Philosophy Morals Traditions Papers]

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Moral Education and Emotional Lying - Moral Education and Emotional Lying There is a long tradition, fathered by Aristotle and recurring like some recessive gene in recent virtue theorists, that holds that the emotions, like acts, must be 'trained'. Consider the following: [In Beckett's portrayal,] "Emotions are not feelings that well up in some natural and untutored way from our natural selves, that they are, in fact, not personal or natural at all, that they are, instead, contrivances, social constructs. We learn how to feel, and we learn our emotional repertoire. [tags: Philosophy Papers]
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Evolution of the Moral Code - Evolution of the Moral Code "Morality is the herding instinct of the individual." -Nietzsche Within the depths of your imagination, two tribes exist. Peaceful hunter-gatherers, they are exactly equal in every respect. All of the variables in their environment are the same or cancel each other out. Their birth and death rates coincide exactly, their resources and location are so similar that they could be the same tribe. They remain in this state of equality, completely unaware of each others' existence, until one day a fight erupts in both tribes at the same time which heats to the point where one member of the tribe kills another in anger. [tags: Philosophy essays]

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Television Soap Operas and Moral Debate - Television Soap Operas and Moral Debate ABSTRACT: This paper proposes that we should aim to refine talk about issues in soap opera as a means of developing moral reasoning skills. I begin with a report of work at schools in New Jersey over 1996-97, during which excerpts of a popular soap opera, 'Party of Five,' were used as the basis of a rigorous philosophical discussion of moral behavior. I then turn to the distinctive role of soap opera as a locus of moral discussion, with an example of a Mexicana telenovela. [tags: Philosophy Research Papers]
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An Examination of Deontology and Utilitarianism in Deeply Moral Situations - An Examination of Deontology and Utilitarianism in Deeply Moral Situations Samuel Adams (1722 - 1803), an American patriot and politician, once stated, "Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason"[1]. This statement is significant, as it undermines two of the primary ethical doctrines in philosophy - the deontological perspective defended by Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804) in Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals (634), and utilitarianism, supported by John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873) in his essay, Utilitarianism (667). [tags: Philosophy Essays]
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Moral Law According To Kant - Moral Law According To Kant Immanuel Kant was a deontologist from Germany in the eithteenth century. He believed that the only test of whether a decision is right or wrong is whether it could be applied to everyone. Would it be all right for everyone to do what you are doing. If not, your decision is wrong. It would be wrong, for example, to make a promise with the intention of breaking it because if everyone did that, no one would believe anyone's promises. In ethics, Kant tried to show that doing one's duty consisted in following only those principles that one would accept as applying equally to all. [tags: Morality Ethics Kant Philosophy Essays]

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Kant and Moral Values - Kant says that moral values are ‘good without qualification.’ This assertion and similar remarks of Plato can be understood in terms of a return to moral data themselves in the following ways: 1. Moral values are objectively good and not relative to our judgments; 2. Moral goodness is intrinsic goodness grounded in the nature of acts and independent of our subjective satisfaction; 3. Moral goodness expresses in an essentially new and higher sense of the idea of value as such; 4. Moral Goodness cannot be abused like intellectual, aesthetic, temperamental and other values; 5. [tags: Philosophy Essays Papers]
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Proving A Moral Principle - Proving A Moral Principle Once one has examined an ethical theory and knows what its fundamental concepts are — what kinds of factors are to be used in making moral judgments, whether its principles apply directly to acts or rules, and what concepts of the good life is proposed — one is certainly in a better position to judge which of all the competitive principles comes closest to fulfilling the task of giving a complete account of moral phenomena. Unfortunately this may not be enough to enable us to choose among them. [tags: Philosophy Philosophical Morals Essays]
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Moral Sentiments and Determinism - ABSTRACT: P. F. Strawson’s essay "Freedom and Resentment" was a landmark in the study of determinism, free-will, and morality. It contributed a much-needed correction to the problem of overintellectualization as found in twentieth-century compatibilist literature. Although most of the central claims in Strawson’s essay are important and true, it fails to fill the lacuna in the analysis, discussion and proposals of traditional compatibilism. The reasons may be summarized as follows. The web of moral demands, feelings and participant attitudes comprises a set of facts within human social life which must be investigated in order to understand the relation (or lack thereof) between determinism. [tags: Philosophy Philosophical Papers]
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Luck, Moral Guilt and Legal Guilt - Luck, Moral Guilt and Legal Guilt The question of whether luck should play a role in our assessment of other people is fundamental to human society. Our judicial laws express the view that we are responsible for our actions-in other words, luck does have a bearing on the determination of legal guilt; since legal guilt is theoretically based on moral guilt, this means that luck is usually considered to have a bearing on moral guilt as well. However, there are serious difficulties with this system of judgment. [tags: Philosophy essays]
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Moral Dilemma - Moral Dilemma As human beings, we are forced to accept the inevitability of being unwillingly confronted with situations that test the strength of our morality and character. In the midst of deep moral conflict we become immensely introspective and we follow our intuition with the hopes of it guiding us towards the morally correct decision. However, how can we be sure that we have acted morally in a situation that is so morbid and perverse that our intuition is completely torn. This is the dilemma that is faced by the mother who is given a terrible choice by a Nazi officer: either the officer will kill all three of her children, or the mother must kill one in order preserve t. [tags: Philosophy Essays]

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Moral Actions - Moral Actions Honesty and deceit. Compassion and Neglect. Benevolence and malevolence. All these represent the extremes in the spectrum of morality. From the general societal viewpoint, the former represents the attitudes which should be admired, rewarded and emulated, while the latter represents the attitudes which should be abhorred, punished and discouraged. Now philosophers, not being satisfied with leaving things well enough alone, endeavour to discover why this is so. Why do we admire acts of kindness. [tags: Philosophy Essays]

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Anti-Moral Realism - Socrates was put to death for “not worshipping the gods of the state” and “corrupting the young.2” The more powerful people of Athens disagreed with, and disapproved of Socrates’ beliefs and handed him a jug of poison. Plato believed that good/morality starts from the powerful government and trickles down to the average person. Women’s and civil rights were both products of the support of more powerful people of these causes. Each new Supreme Court reflects the values of the majority of its members, now liberal, now conservative. [tags: Philosophy]
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Personal Autonomy and Individual Moral Growth - Personal Autonomy and Individual Moral Growth The term 'autonomy', from the Greek roots 'autos' and 'nomos' [self + law] refers to the right or capacity of individuals to govern themselves. Agents may be said to be autonomous if their actions are truly their own, if they may be said to possess moral liberty. The necessity of this moral liberty is made clear in the work of many philosophers, in that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, for example, in whose Social Contract are discussed what Rousseau sees as the centrally important relationships between what he terms the general will, liberty, equality and fraternity. [tags: Ethics Greece Philosophy Papers]
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Ethical Theories and Major Moral Principles - Some people claim that everyone has his or her own ethics, in other words, ethics is individual. The amazing thing about ethical theory, however, is not that there are so many theories, but that there are really very few. Most of contemporary ethical theory is governed by two basic theories, with an additional five or six theories taking up the vast majority of the rest of the discussion. Over the course of the next few pages I will explain to you the basics of eight different ethical theories: utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, contractarianism, feminist or care-based ethics, natural law theory, Confucian ethics, intuitionism and ideal observer theory, and virtue ethics. [tags: Philosophy Ethics 2014]
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Kant's Moral Principles - Kant's Moral Principles In the Foundation of the Metaphysics of Morals, the author, Immanuel Kant, tries to form a base by rejecting all ethical theories that are connected to consequences, and then focusing on our ethical motivations and actions. Kant wants to derive good characters out of contingently right actions. He believes that everything is contingent (everything can have good or bad worth, depending on how it is used). So he is trying to find the supreme principal of morality in all his reasoning. [tags: Kant Immanuel Philosophy Morals Essays]

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Cultural Differentiation and Moral Orientation: Taking an Interest in History - Cultural Differentiation and Moral Orientation In contrast with his major ethical works, Kant’s writings on history are replete with the theme of the social character of moral development and the interdependence of individual and community. I argue that historical-moral progress is an important part of Kant’s comprehensive ethical theory. However, in order to link the moral goals of humanity with the moral goals of individuals, judgement must have a dimension that can apprehend the purposiveness of those human achievements which are social in their significance and socially transmitted. [tags: Philosophy History]

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Philosophy of Ethics - The word “ethics” comes from Greek ethikas meaning character. Today, we use ethics to describe the normative standard of behavior. The history of philosophical ethics has been broken up into five rational methods: Virtue, Traditional, Modern, and Post-Modern Ethics. Within these periods, the philosophy of ethics changed along with the changes being made within society. The first rational method is Virtue Ethics. The major philosophers during this period were materialists such as Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Plutarch. [tags: Philosophy ]
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The Individual Being in Hegel's Philosophy - The only similarity between Marx and Kierkegaard – beyond disagreeing with Hegel – is they both find Hegel to be apathetic. As Kierkegaard summarized in Either/Or, and as Marx exemplifies in his many writings, either one is to resign themselves to inaction for the greater good or one commits to action regardless of the consequences. Hegel, they argue, commits himself to the former. He resigns himself to universal ethics, acting on the greater good at the expense of the individual. Here, Kierkegaard and Marx swerve away from Hegel. [tags: Philosophy]
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The Philosophy of John Locke - Johnathan Robert’s life has been characterized by a keen ability to self teach. At two years old, he suffered an accident that broke his femur. Within weeks of his caste being removed, he relearned the skill of walking. At no older than six years old Johnathan had received numerous ear surgeries yet refused to allow his speech to reflect any of his hearing loss. By the age of seven, he had effectively taught himself how to read and write. According to the philosophy of John Locke, Johnathan’s knowledge did not come from innate ideas or principles, but rather from experiences and sensations. [tags: Philosophy ]
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Philosophy 101 - Philosophy is defined by Webster as "Love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline" or "Investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods." This essay is a general look at those who pursued that intellectual means, those who investigated, even those who reasoned Reason. Because volumes could be written and this is a rather quick, unworthy paper: apologizes. Hegel's philosophy of History, on of the greatest in the philosophy cannon, is the great philosophers greatest body of work. [tags: Philosophy]

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The Philosophy of Existentialism - ‘The most dangerous follower is he whose defection would destroy the whole party: that is to say, the best follower.’ – Friedrich Nietzsche Being recognizable and distinctive nowadays is something most individuals seek after. To become important or standing out in any community is not something today’s individuals have created or whatsoever. Ever since the twentieth century and even before, that belief and eagerness to prove your existence has been noticeably present. Not only between common people has this been there, also philosophers had sincerely thought about that humanly keenness to prove that one is different and essential, and tried to philosophically explain it. [tags: Philosophy, Nietzsche, Socrates]

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The Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari - The Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari ABSTRACT: In academic philosophy the writings of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari are still treated as curiosities and their importance for philosophical discussions is not recognized. In order to remedy this, I demonstrate how the very concept of philosophy expounded by the two contributes to philosophical thinking at the end of the twentieth century while also providing a possible line of thought for the next millenium. To do this, I first emphasize the influence of Deleuze's thinking, while also indicating the impact Guattari had on him. [tags: Philosophy Philosophical Papers]
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My Educational Philosophy - My Educational Philosophy My philosophy of education represents an eclectic mix of personal observations and experiences, opinions and beliefs. As an older, non-traditional student, I possess a wide array of experiences that color my beliefs and give me perspectives that are unique and quite possibly unconventional among the younger attitudes that surround me. I am not very receptive of conventional wisdom; instead choosing, for right or wrong, to reason out my own ideologies and philosophies. [tags: Philosophy of Education Teaching]

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Thomas Hobbes' Philosophy - Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher who lived from 1588-1679. He attended Oxford University where he studied classics. His occupation was a tutor, but he also traveled around Europe to meet with scientists and to study different forms of government. He became interested in why people allowed themselves to be ruled, and what would be the best form of government for England. Thomas Hobbes was the first great figure in modern moral philosophy. Hobbes had a pessimistic view of people; he believed humans were selfish creatures who would do anything to better their positions. [tags: Thomas Hobbes' Philosophy]

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Ethics and Morality in Philosophy - Morality has always been an unacknowledged and crucial role in defining ethics. Principles tend to be a virtue that applies only within society and can be distinguished from law, religion, or ethics. Morality in its defining sense can be different from each other, depending on the foundations of the society that claim their morality. Different societies have a different sense of what their moral priority would be like. Their morality can be based on purity and honesty when others concerned with practices. [tags: Ethics, Morality, Philosophy, ]

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The Trail of Socrates and the development of Western Philosophy - THESIS STATEMENT Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens and sentenced to die for his beliefs. He accepted this punishment because he truly thought what he believed was right. PURPOSE STATEMENT By conducting research and examining various sources, The trail of Socrates proved to be an important part in history, impacting the development of Western Philosophy and allowing the beliefs of Socrates to live on to this day. INTRODUCTION “The death of Socrates has had a huge and almost continuous impact on western culture” (Wilson 1). [tags: Philosophy, Athens]

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My Teaching Philosophy - My Teaching Philosophy As defined by Webster, to educate is "to supervise mental or moral growth." But when one gets to the core of the word it is more important to society. Without education, society as a whole would gradually fall apart. My goal in life is to relay knowledge to my students to help them become productive citizens. Several philosophers have laid paths, or guidelines, for producing these citizens. One in particular stands out in my eyes. Rousseau. Rousseau and I both agree that the majority of people have the same intelligence. [tags: Philosophy of Teaching Education Teachers Essays]

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Aristotle's Philosophy on Purpose - Aristotle, the last of the great Greek philosophers. He roamed Ancient Greece from 384 BC until his death in 323 BC. In this time, he wrote an enormous amount of works, a variety of books from metaphysics to politics and to poetry. His variety is exceptionally impressive. His greatest known works are the Athenian Constitution and Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle’s works of Ethics explore a vast area of topics. He states, “The goal of the Ethics is to determine how best to achieve happiness.” In order to achieve happiness, one must live a virtuous life, in the mind of Aristotle. [tags: Aristotle, Philosophy, Purpose, ]
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The Moral Obligation of Businesses - Introduction: Individuals are not motivated to do as they wish to, within narrow boundaries of the community, which illustrates common collaboration. By stages, cooperation will improve into activities that rise towards sustaining that niche society’s wellbeing. People who care about others who are not able to take care of them self like, poor, old, weak, sick, as also know as moral imperatives (Brenan, pg 114). Even though, helping isn’t partial to the above-mentioned groups. Basically thinking regarding citizens, land, atmosphere and nature is known as cultivation. [tags: environment, collaboration]
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Is Abortion Moral or Immoral? - “Is abortion moral or immoral?” We yet have not acquired an answer to this question. Infer by that, we defend about the nature and the moral status of the fetus. In the other word, should we or should we not. Don Marquis as well as Bonnie Steinbock embraces with the argument of their own, which point out the morality of abortion. Don Marquis upholds the fact of since abortion deprives the fetus of a future like ours therefore most abortion is morally wrong. He adheres in his article “abortion is, except possibly in rare cases, seriously immoral”, what he meant was that not all abortions are wrong. [tags: Abortion Essays]

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Bertrand Russell on Analytical Philsophy - "The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it" - Bertrand Russell, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism. Bertrand Russell was born in 1872 in Wales, England as a member of a famous British family. He received a degree from Trinity Cambridge College with honors in Mathematics and Moral Sciences. His most famous works included the subjects of logic and philosophy, which were deeply rooted in his mathematics background. [tags: Philosophy]

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Douglas N. Husak's A Moral Right to Use Drugs - Douglas N. Husak's A Moral Right to Use Drugs In Douglas N. Husak’s A Moral Right to Use Drugs he attempts to look at drug use from an impartial standpoint in order to determine what is the best legal status for currently illegal drugs. Husak first describes the current legal situation concerning drugs in America, citing figures that show how drug crimes now make up a large percentage of crimes in our country. Husak explains the disruption which this causes within the judicial system and it is made clear that he is not content with the current way drugs are treated. [tags: Husak Moral Right Drugs Essays]

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Developing a Code of Ethics Standard - Developing a Code of Ethics Standard Ethics standard represents a part of philosophy which deals with moral conduct and values system that gauge what is the right or wrong actions. Similarly ethical standards are guideline of conduct which is accepted and valued by society or a specific group including areas like business, health, spiritual, educational, and personal ethics. Most “code of ethics” is established as principle set by an organization or an individual asserting the standard and prospects that will governs their behavior. [tags: Phylosophy, Moral, Conduct]
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Moral Philosophies - Human nature is philosophical; if morality exists within human nature, then moral philosophy indeed deems human nature philosophical. The observance of moral patterns in human thought and behaviour often involve an analysis of reflection and action. Therefore, in the course currently entitled Human Sciences, Great Dialogues: Reflection and Action, both morality and philosophy are key themes. However, the calendar description for the course is as follows, “What is the relationship between thinking and action. [tags: Human Nature, Human Thought, Behavior]
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Moral Philosophies - Ethical dilemmas challenge business because there are different moral philosophies held by each individual and subjective to each situation. Companies have different moral philosophies that shape the ethical climate. Two moral philosophies that effect how a company handles ethics are Utilitarianism and Ethical Egoism. “The utilitarian seeks the greatest good for the greatest number of people” while doing the least harm (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2011, p. 156). Ethical Egoism states that consequences are only relevant to the individual and, “each person ought to pursue his or her own self-interest exclusively” (Rachels & Rachels, 2010, p. [tags: Ethics ]
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