The Point of View of the Universe: Sidgwick and Contemporary Ethics

Hardcover | May 14, 2014

byKatarzyna de Lazari-Radek, Peter Singer

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What does the idea of taking 'the point of view of the universe' tell us about ethics? The great nineteenth-century utilitarian Henry Sidgwick used this metaphor to present what he took to be a self-evident moral truth: the good of one individual is of no more importance than the good of anyother. Ethical judgments, he held, are objective truths that we can know by reason. The ethical axioms he took to be self-evident provide a foundation for utilitarianism. He supplements this foundation with an argument that nothing except states of consciousness have ultimate value, which led himto hold that pleasure is the only thing that is intrinsically good. Are these claims defensible? Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer test them against a variety of views held by contemporary writers in ethics, and conclude that they are. This book is therefore a defence of objectivism in ethics, and of hedonistic utilitarianism. The authors also explore,and in most cases support, Sidgwick's views on many other key questions in ethics: how to justify an ethical theory, the significance of an evolutionary explanation of our moral judgments, the choice between preference-utilitarianism and hedonistic utilitarianism, the conflict between self-interestand universal benevolence, whether something that it would be wrong to do openly can be right if kept secret, how demanding utilitarianism is, whether we should discount the future, or favor those who are worse off, the moral status of animals, and what is an optimum population.

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What does the idea of taking 'the point of view of the universe' tell us about ethics? The great nineteenth-century utilitarian Henry Sidgwick used this metaphor to present what he took to be a self-evident moral truth: the good of one individual is of no more importance than the good of anyother. Ethical judgments, he held, are obje...

Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek is a Polish utilitarian philosopher, working as an assistant professor at the Institute of Philosophy at the University of Lodz. She received her PhD at the same university. She is the author of several articles in Polish and English on Henry Sidgwick, utilitarianism, bioethics, and philosophy for children. ...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.98 inPublished:May 14, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199603693

ISBN - 13:9780199603695

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Table of Contents

PrefaceA Biographical Prologue1. Introduction2. Reason and Action3. Intuition and the Morality of Common Sense4. Justification in Ethics5. The Axioms of Ethics6. The Profoundest Problem of Ethics7. The Origins of Ethics and the Unity of Practical Reason8. Ultimate Good, Part I: Perfectionism and Desire Based Theory9. Ultimate Good, Part II: Hedonism10. Rules11. Demandingness12. DistributionConclusion