Five Types of Ethical Theory (International Library of Philosophy)
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First published in 2000. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
gathered from various passages scattered about his books and his letters. Nevertheless, the ultimate and explicit aim of his philosophical works was ethical. It was to discover in what human perfection consists, to explain the difficulties which prevent most men from reaching it, and to show the way which they must follow if they would overcome these difficulties. Before I begin to expound Spinoza's ethical theory I must state that I shall ignore everything in his system which depends on what he
intercourse and parenthood. The action of the male spider, who is generally eaten by his wife, and the action of the hen, who attracts the attention of a hawk to herself in order to divert it from her chickens, are certainly very odd expressions of an impulse towards nothing but self-preservation . (2) The general sentiment of sympathy towards another member of one's race or species, as such, when one sees him in pain or difficulty. That this is often overcome by other emotions and impulses is
intrinsic value; but the presence of the deserved amount of pleasure adds to the value of wholes composed of virtuous persons. 135-139. Kant's theory of Moral Obligation. 135-136. The double nature of man is a fact; but Kant's theory of it is metaphysically impossible. 136. The Good Will and the Holy Will. 136-137. The theory that what I ought to will, as a Phenomenon, is what I necessarily do will, as a Noumenon, is ethically unsatisfactory. 137-138. Theory of a timeless choice by the Noumenal
now to the final question: "What characteristic must a principle of conduct have in order to be accepted on its own merits by every rational being as such? " Kant's answer is that the feature which is common and peculiar to such principles must be a certain characteristic form, and not anything characteristic in their content. And the formal criterion is this. It is necessary and sufficient that the principle shall be such that anyone who accepts it as his principle of conduct can consistently
except in so far as this subserves his own happiness. It is very difficult to think of any principle which would strictly be self-contradictory when generalised. I cannot see that Kant's example of promise-breaking is a case in point. If the principle were generally acted upon people in difficulties would, no doubt, soon cease to be able to get help from others by promises of repayment. So the real position is that the desire that everyone who has got out of a difficulty by making a promise shall