Essays on Ethics and Method

Essays on Ethics and Method

Essays on Ethics and Method

Essays on Ethics and Method

Synopsis

'A hundred years after his death, Singer's volume demonstrates that Sidgwick continues to provide an exemplary model of the philosophical search for clarity, and of the openness to the thought of others required for the avoidance of dogmatism.' -British Journal of the History of PhilosophyEssays on Ethics and Method is a selection of the shorter writings of the great nineteenth-century moral philosopher Henry Sidgwick. Sidgwick's monumental work The Methods of Ethics is a classic of philosophy; this new volume is a fascinating complement to it. The volume will be a rich resource for anyone interested in moral philosophy or the development of modern analytical philosophy.

Excerpt

I first heard of Henry Sidgwick when, as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois right after World War II, in Fred Will's course on Theory of Knowledge I read some portions of William Pepperell Montague's Ways of Knowing and came across his glowing reference to Sidgwick's Methods of Ethics. A year or so later, when I was a graduate student at Cornell, Stuart Brown suggested that I read Sidgwick's History of Ethics and Broad's Five Types of Ethical Theory. This was good advice, and I have ever since recommended these books to students beginning the study of ethics. The next year I signed up for Brown's ethics seminar, on Hobbes, Butler, Sidgwick, and Bradley. This was a fascinating seminar; the counterpoint involved was marvelous. A paper I wrote for that seminar was entitled 'Generalization in Sidgwick's Ethics'. As I later came to see, it was not really a good paper—even though Brown thought well of it—, but it was the beginning of a life-long interest in both Sidgwick and generalization.

I first contemplated compiling a selection of Sidgwick's papers in 1961 or 1962, and broached the subject to my editors at both Knopf and Scribner's. The response was the same in both cases: there was not enough interest in Sidgwick to warrant such a venture. After (the late) Eugene Freeman, editor of The Monist, arranged a special issue for 1974 to celebrate the centennial of the publication of The Methods, he approached me with the idea of editing for the Open Court Publishing Company a collection of Sidgwick's essays in collaboration with Jerry Schneewind. Schneewind and I exchanged some ideas on contents, but then Professor Freeman decided that, given the relative lack of interest (at the time) in the Sidgwick Monist issue, there would not be enough interest to warrant Open Court in publishing a selection of Sidgwick's essays. A while later Bill Hackett, of Hackett Publishing Company, was in touch with Schneewind and me about editing a selection of Sidgwick's essays, but he decided that such a project would have to wait until Hackett reprinted The Methods of Ethics (1981), and then Bill Hackett died, and, independently of that, Schneewind lost interest in the project. And that was that, for quite a while. Meanwhile, I continued teaching Sidgwick in seminars and tutorials, included some Sidgwick material in my Morals and Values (Scribner's 1977), and in a National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar for College Teachers that I directed in the summer of 1983 made available and assigned a number of Sidgwick's epistemological as well as some of his ethical essays.

Bart Schultz, shortly after the publication of his Essays on Henry Sidgwick—which in turn developed out of a conference on 'Henry Sidgwick as Philosopher

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