The Language of Morals

The Language of Morals

The Language of Morals

The Language of Morals

Excerpt

I have set out in this book to write a clear, brief, and readable introduction to ethics which shall bring the beginner as directly as possible to grips with the fundamental problems of the subject. I have therefore, in reducing the material which I had prepared to about half its original length, left out most of those qualifications, answers to minor objections, and other defences with which the security-minded philosopher is apt to hedge himself round. Though I think that the approach to ethics which is sketched in these pages is in general a fruitful one, I shall be less disturbed if my readers disagree with me than if they fail to understand me. Almost every paragraph in this book, as in other works of philosophy, requires some qualification; but to supply it on every occasion would be to make my main contentions difficult to grasp. I have therefore tried to adopt throughout as definite a standpoint as possible, in the belief that it is more important that there should be discussion of the points herein raised, than that I should survive it unscathed.

Ethics, as I conceive it, is the logical study of the language of morals. It is in general easier to understand the very complex logic of moral terms if one has some acquaintance with the simpler kinds of logic; but since many students of philosophy are for some reason made to study ethics without such acquaintance, I have tried not to take it for granted. If anyone approaches this book without any previous philosophical reading, he will, I hope, find it intelligible if he follows this simple rule: to omit any passages which he finds difficult, go on reading, and return to them later. I have included, for the benefit of those who may be interested in them, certain very cursory references to some of the familiar 'types of ethical theory', and also to the works of some of the bestknown writers on ethics; but these references may be ignored . . .

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