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The Methods of Ethics, 7th Edition (Hackett Classics) 7th Edition
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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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Looks like a great book, but unfortunately the Kindle edition is very poorly formatted and in places virtually impossible to follow.Published 14 months ago by Robert Williams
To understand Principia Ethica, it helps to read Professor Sidgwick.Published 18 months ago by Guy Till
One of the five most important studies in ethical theory. Derek Parfit in his recent book On What Matters, itself an important book, would rate it even higher.Published on February 12, 2013 by Dr. JAB
I purchased this book given its low price. Unfortunately any price for this book is too high. It includes a disclaimer before the title page about the frequency of typos in the... Read morePublished on November 25, 2011 by Evan