The Diversity of Moral Thinking

The Diversity of Moral Thinking

The Diversity of Moral Thinking

The Diversity of Moral Thinking

Synopsis

'His book is a model of analysis. It ranges over most of the central issues in contemporary British moral philosophy and abounds in illuminating distinctions and enlightening contrasts... One cannot praise too highly the clarity and penetration of this.' W. D. Hudson, Times Higher Educational Supplement

Excerpt

Attempts by philosophers to answer the question how reason can become practical have been hampered by complacency and despair alike. On the one hand, it has been claimed that the dictates of reason are clear and uniquely authoritative, on the other, that reason is utterly impotent to decide on matters of morals. in this work I shall try to steer a middle course and shall argue that once the diversity of moral thinking is appreciated, scope is afforded for a use of reason which is at once practical and dialectical. It is for this reason that there are no quick ways to the solution or dissolution of the problems of ethical theory; in philosophy Gordian knots need to be not cut but untied. It will not do complacently to accept the promptings of common sense at the very beginning of an enquiry; if philosophy is worth doing at all, it is worth doing the hard way. For it is the journey rather than the destination which is of interest, and it is only one's honest toil which there is joy or even point in submitting to the critical gaze of the reader.

In the writing of this book I have been particularly indebted to Mr L. Jonathan Cohen and Professors R. M. Hare, G. P. Henderson, and Bernard Mayo, who read the original typescript and greatly helped me with comments and criticisms. I owe a very great debt to 'the hard men of Dundee', my colleagues past and present in the Department of Philosophy at Dundee, who have generously given up their time to discuss some of my arguments. I am indebted to Mr Roger Young for comments on Chapters 3 and 6. I have also to thank a number of my pupils from whom I have learnt much in discussion. None of the above are responsible for the thoughts which appear here, although they are responsible for the non-appearance of other, less happy, arguments. I am also grateful to the Department of Philosophy and the University of Dundee for sabbatical leave to complete the book. Above all, I owe an enormous . . .

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