Essays in Ethical Theory

Essays in Ethical Theory

Essays in Ethical Theory

Essays in Ethical Theory

Synopsis

R.M. Hare is one of the most widely discussed of today's moral philosophers. In this volume he has collected a number of essays, including one which is previously unpublished, which fill in the theoretical background of his thought. Each essay is self-contained, but together they give a connected picture of his views on such questions as the objectivity and rationality of moral thinking, the issue between the ethical realists and their opponents, the place in our moral thought of appeals to common convictions, and how to tell whether a feature of a situation is morally relevant.

Excerpt

This is the first of several volumes into which I am collecting essays of mine, some already published and some not. I have been sparing in revision, seeking only a certain uniformity of style, mainly by the removal of colloquialisms from those pieces which were originally given as lectures. I have also adopted a simpler and more compact system of references, made possible by the inclusion of a bibliography. In so doing I have left out some references, and also added a few to later works where they may be useful to readers--especially to my book Moral Thinking, which gives a conspectus of my views about moral reasoning. Occasionally, as in 'Relevance', I have altered the text where it was unclear or even wrong, or added footnotes. But to nearly all of the papers I can still subscribe, and have therefore not attempted to rewrite them.

As always with such volumes, it has not been possible to avoid some repetition of points that need to be made in the context of each paper. Though I have sometimes substituted cross-references for repeated arguments, to have done so always would have made things difficult for readers. My intention was, rather, that those who did not wish to read all the papers need not; I have therefore left the papers as self-contained as they were, but have tried to arrange them so that related ones are adjacent. A reader unfamiliar with my ideas might do well to start with the first paper, and then, for a bare and simple summary of my views, go on to the eleventh. Papers 1-9 deal mainly with the basics of moral reasoning in the logic of moral language, and with how it enables us to avoid sterile disputes about the so called 'objectivity' or 'subjectivity' of moral judgements. Papers 10-15 are intended to show how, if we avoid these disputes and the errors they lead to, we can found a viable theory of moral reasoning on this basis.

I am grateful to the original publishers for giving permission to reprint where necessary. The place of first publicaton is given at the foot of the first page of each paper. I am also enormously grateful to Angela Blackburn of the Oxford University Press . . .

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