A Study in Ethical Theory

A Study in Ethical Theory

A Study in Ethical Theory

A Study in Ethical Theory

Excerpt

This book is sadly inconclusive. It is a study in ethical theory as its title suggests; it is not an 'ethics', but an attempt to study different styles of argument concerning the foundations of morality, by methods sometimes analytic and sometimes historical. It is informed by a desire to bring out some of the ways in which the problem (or problems) of the possibility of metaphysics impinges on moral reflection, the way we think we should live, choose, act. This impact is a much more complex and awkward thing than is sometimes allowed, and it is reciprocal. If the book has any value, it may be in the way it enables readers to see in a different context, and from an altered perspective, much with which they will be already familiar in books of greater scholarship and analytic power.

My debts are many and various: to my teachers, especially the late H. W. B. Joseph, and to Mr. Isaiah Berlin; to Prof. H. H. Price; to my colleagues here, and especially to Dr. R. W. Hepburn and (in the sections bearing on Kant Religions- philosophie) Professor David Cairns; and to many others, like Professor and Mrs. R. B. Braithwaite to whom I owe some of the things that seem to me most important in the discussion of the utilitarians, even though they may very properly reject my own interpretation of what certainly came to my mind as a result of conversation with them in Cambridge.

Where Hegel is concerned, I am greatly in the debt of such French scholars as MM. Jean Wohl and Jean Hyppolite, from whose writings I have learnt a great deal. I have further been encouraged to treat Hegel boldly by things said to me by Principal T. M. Knox of St. Andrews; I hope he will not think me too bold!

But the extent of my indebtedness is too large to be . . .

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