Principles of Ethics

Principles of Ethics

Principles of Ethics

Principles of Ethics

Excerpt

The title of this book is a fair description of its contents. It is assumed that every science will have not only a body of materials and appropriate laws for explaining them, but also specific methods for solving the pertinent problems confronting the investigator. To these three phases ethics adds a fourth, namely, the sanctions that stand behind the execution of moral acts, either as inducements or obstructions in their path. These four factors comprise the program of moral science, and in accordance with their terms I have attempted to expound the meaning of the type of behavior which is uniformly spoken of as moral. I have not hesitated to argue that conduct is worthy of the same kind of objective treatment which we insist on devoting to a laboratory experiment. Hence, desires, choices, emotions, are capable of select and extended examination, although the methods pursued must be different from those of physiology and the results perhaps not so exact. Some of the instruments to be employed I have described in the first chapter and their formal use will, I trust, be evident in the succeeding discussions. It should appear from the text that morals is a system of behavior having its roots in that sentiment of obligation which the normal intelligence invariably exhibits.

It would be futile for me to relate my argument to any historic form of ethical theory. I am not altogether persuaded that a systematic theory is either possible or, if possible, desirable. We may preferably follow the lead of Sidgwick and call the argument a method of ethics, meaning thereby that moral endeavor does not so much require an elaborate explanation of its terms as a frank statement of its objective conditions and the way to meet them. Accord-

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