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The Methods of Ethics, 7th Edition (Hackett Classics) 7th Edition

3.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0915145287
ISBN-10: 0915145286
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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Published in 1874, Sidgwick's masterpiece argues the utilitarian approach to ethics and presents a systematic and historically sensitive approach to ethical research that influenced utilitarian philosophers well into the twentieth century. It remains a valuable introduction to the philosophy, practice and history of ethics. This reissue includes the 1877 supplement. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Henry Sidgwick (May 31, 1838 - August 28,1900) was a professor, philosopher, writer and advocate for women s education. An analytical Utilitarian in his politics, as a philosopher he examined the principles of ethical hedonism, human behavior and free will. He developed a reputation as an excellent teacher who treated students as equals and was also a member of the Metaphysical Society. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Hackett Classics
  • Paperback: 568 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Company; 7th edition (August 1, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0915145286
  • ISBN-13: 978-0915145287
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #438,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Methods of Ethics is Sidgwick's great systematic treatise on ethics. It's also a central text in the history of philosophy, and it can be understood as the work that initiated contemporary ethical theory in the English-speaking world. Of course, this isn't a work that came out of nowhere. In fact, it's informed by Sidgwick's firm grounding in the history of previous ethical thought. And unlike many great philosophers, what Sidgwick has to say about his intellectual forbears is usually reasonably accurate. (See his Outlines of the History of Ethics for additional evidence of his knowledge--and for an excellent introduction to the history of ethics.)
This book is long; it's detailed; and it aspires to comprehensiveness. Indeed, all of the main areas of philosophical ethics (viz. meta-ethics, normative ethics, and moral psychology) are covered herein. Consequently, it's simply impossible to summarize Sidgwick's argument here. Instead of futilely attempting to do so, I'll simply provide the barest outline of Sidgwick's aims and his results.
According to Sidgwick, there are three fundamental methods of ethics: egoistic hedonism, intuitionism, utilitarianism. He wants to examine the nature and plausiblity of each of these methods. The fundamental principle of egoistic hedonism is that what one ought to do (i.e. what one has most reason to do) is what will maximize one's own net amount of pleasure in the long run. The method of hedonism is the method of determing what one ought to do by accumulating empirical evidence about the consequences of particular actions for one's own happiness.
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Be forewarned! Although there is nothing wrong with the printing and paper quality of this text, it is a reproduction of a poorly scanned OCR with innumerable bits of random characters, and footnotes strewn throughout the text without warning. If they had used the original from which it was scanned, it might have been a nice book. As it is, you can't really read it without consulting another copy of the text...
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This review is not about the content of the book. It is about the General Books copy. The copy is produced by OCR and has many typos, too many to be of any use. It is just a waste of money and time to buy this copy.
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Format: Paperback
As I write this, all the 1-star reviews are solely complaints about the edition or printing of the book, not with the content, Sidgwick's writing. The 5-star reviews are about said content. The content is well worth reading. He was knowledgeable about the various ethical theories of famous philosophers. The book shows how complicated ethics is, with all the 'ifs, ands, or buts' to be considered with topics like justice, promises, virtues, courage, freedom, and duties. I recommend it. Just find another edition that doesn't have the printing flaws this one does.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The copy of general books does not worth the money, and there is no table of contents and index. Don't buy it unless you are tired of reading some copies from the internet.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's hard to say whether this is a good book. I've never read Sidgwick and truly wanted to, but this is unreadable on all my devices. Avoid this like the plague and get a hardcopy.
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Format: Paperback
Along with Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments and Herbert Spencer's Principles of Ethics, this treatise is one of the great under-read masterpieces of British moral philosophy. The book reflects both wide learning and careful study. Sidgwick casts a broad net, and pulls in some very fish.

The three "methods of ethics" he explores are, basically, egoism, intuitionism, and utilitarianism. Though his arguments ultimately fail to convince me of what he is trying to convince me, they are amazingly fecund. You will not stop thinking about this book after you have read it.

The highlight of the book, for me, I'm afraid, was his brilliant few pages criticizing libertarianism in social ethics. This is probably the first such critique that stays on point, and is worth careful study by all who place primacy on liberty.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The digital content is full of typographical spelling and punctuation errors, to the point that the meaning is not always clear until you figure out what word SHOULD be there to complete a sentence. But what makes it unreadable is the lack of any distinction between text and footnotes. Everything runs together. You might be reading the chapter introduction and suddenly realize the sentence seems to be referencing something else entirely-and there are a LOT of footnotes and endnotes and inserted explanations. You probably didn't plan to read every single one. But you must. Because there is no way to tell where the text ends and notes begin. Even at the bargain price of 99c, this is not much of a deal. I paid $10 for a used print copy. The digital version might be more useful once I have a print copy to actually study.
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