Introduction to the Science of Ethics

Introduction to the Science of Ethics

Introduction to the Science of Ethics

Introduction to the Science of Ethics

Excerpt

The title of this book is intended to be fairly descriptive of it. It treats of ethics as a science, which if not wholly independent of metaphysical considerations -- and of no science can that be said -- is sufficiently independent to permit of separate positive treatment. And under the broad license of an 'introduction' it presents not only an outline of the science as we find it to-day, but some account of the past which has made it what it is.

Part I contains brief chapters upon the scope and methods of the science and upon one metaphysical topic (the freedom of the will) which cannot well be passed over in silence. But it is mainly given up to a discussion of the subjects of moral judgments and a survey of the various kinds of standards according to which, under the conditions of savage or of civilized life, moral judgments are made. It is thus intended to present a broad background of facts against which the explanatory theories, old and new, may be the better appreciated.

Part II is a review of the principal Greek and English ethical theories. In an introductory note I have given my reasons for including this review. It does not purport to be a history of ethics, even for the periods which it covers. By neglecting much that is important to the historian, I have gained space for a fuller and, I trust, more interesting and instructive treatment of the men and movements that are included. In connection with Part II a selection from the ethical classics should certainly be read; and this, however meager, should not fail to comprise Books I, II, and X of the Nicomachean Ethics.

Especially in the case of the Greek ethicists, I have not always found it possible to separate the moral theories entirely from their metaphysical basis; indeed, to have done so would . . .

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