The Bases of Ethics

The Bases of Ethics

The Bases of Ethics

The Bases of Ethics

Synopsis

The origins and uses of the classical moral theories / Roger Sullivan -- Wisdom as foundational ethical theory in Thomas Aquinas / Lawrence Dewan -- Descartes and the ethics of generosity / Leslie Armour -- Is pity the basis of ethics? : Nietzsche versus Schopenhauer / T. L. S. Sprigge -- Jacques Maritain and Karol Wojtyla : approches to modernity / Kenneth Schmitz -- On the foundations of ethics / Hugo Meynell -- Ethics, the humanities, and the formation of persons / Thomas De Koninck -- Personal identity and the sense of duty / Elizabeth Trott -- Passing through : women's experiences and ethics / Monique Dumais -- Ladri'ere's eschatology of reason and the foundations of ethics / Louis Perron -- The foundations of ethics and moral practices / William Sweet.

Excerpt

To ask after ‘the basEs of ethics’ rather than the basIs or the foundation of ethics may suggest that one has already taken a position on the issue of foundations in ethics. For, some would point out, surely there can be only one basis for ethics, not the ‘many’ implied by the word ‘bases.’ Others might say that such a term supposes that there are bases or foundations to be had and that, if there is one thing that post-modern thought has brought to our attention, it is that there are no bases or foundations at all. But the virtue of such a theme and title for this volume is that it allows interlocutors from different philosophical traditions a degree of latitude in addressing the topic of whether one can speak of a foundation or basis or bases in ethics and, if one can, in identifying what this might be.

The term ‘the bases of ethics’ is, of course, also somewhat ambiguous—but, again, this is a virtue, for it enables one to explore a broad range of related topics. Discussion of the theme, then, could go in a number of directions, and the nature of this discussion will be determined by, to begin with, how one understands the word ‘ethics.’ One could, for example, focus on ethical practice or behavior, or one could talk about ethical theory. Moreover, there are many different ways in which one might understand the term ‘bases.’ Thus, a study of ‘the bases of ethics’ could involve an enquiry into the historical basis or origin of ethical theories. Or it could mean that one is concerned with what it is that ethics is about—namely, describing the practice of ethics or being ethical—and what the conditions for such a practice are. Or it could mean that one is interested in features required for engaging in an investigation into ethical theory—e.g., what are the conditions for thinking about or carrying out the study of ethical principles and norms. (Here we would be led to reflect on such issues as the standards for meaning, proof and truth in moral philosophy . . .

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