Sidgwick, Henry

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Sidgwick, Henry

Henry Sidgwick (sĬj´wĬk), 1838–1900, English philosopher. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, and taught moral philosophy there from 1869 until 1900. The basis of his thought was British utilitarianism. Analyzing the intuitionist and utilitarian arguments, he indicated their interrelationship by showing how the doctrine of common sense rests on the principles of utilitarianism. In The Methods of Ethics (1874) he distinguished between actions performed with a view toward the general happiness and those performed with a view toward the agent's own self-interest. After comparing ethical systems based on intuitionism, and utilitarianism, and egoism, he concluded that intuitionism and utilitarianism could be integrated into a single ethical system, but that no rational explanation could be found for preferring it to egoism. Sidgwick was interested in the advancement of women's rights, aiding in the planning and founding of Newnham College for women. He was also a founder of the Society of Psychical Research. Other major published works are Principles of Political Economy (1883), Philosophy: Its Scope and Relations (1902), and The Development of European Polity (1903).

See J. B. Schneewind, Sidgwick's Ethics and Victorian Moral Philosophy (1977).

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