Philosophy – Utilitarianism

| December 8, 2015

Topic: Philosophy – Utilitarianism

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Description: Using Henry Sidgwick’s “The Methods of Ethics,” which can be found for free online: Explain the argument Sidgwick treats as a proof of utilitarianism against egoism and why, according to Sidgwick, that proof of utilitarianism against egoism fails (see esp. Methods pp. 379-384, 419-21, and 497-8). This failure helps lead to the “dualism of the practical reason”. Explain how the dualism might be interpreted as involving (a) an immediate contradiction, (b) a mediate contradiction, and (c) something less than a contradiction. What sort of evidence can be offered in favor of each of these interpretations? Which interpretation should we accept? (For this topic the key parts of the Methods are Chapters III XIII, IV II, the Concluding Chapter, and pp. xvii-xxiii; see also Some Fundamental Ethical Controversies, pp. 473-474 and 483-487)

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