Ideas from 'The Methods of Ethics (7th edn)' by Henry Sidgwick [1874], by Theme Structure

[found in 'The Methods of Ethics (7th edn)' by Sidgwick,Henry [Hackett 1981,0-915145-28-6]].

green numbers give full details    |     back to texts     |     unexpand these ideas


23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 1. Utilitarianism
It is self-evident (from the point of view of the Universe) that no individual has more importance than another
                        Full Idea: It is a self-evident principle that the good of one individual is of no more importance, from the point of view of the Universe, than the good of any other, ..and as a rational being I am bound to aim at good generally, not merely at a particular part.
                        From: Henry Sidgwick (The Methods of Ethics (7th edn) [1874], III.XIII.3)
                        A reaction: Showing that even a very empirical theory like utilitarianism has an a priori basis. Of course, the principle is false. What about animals, the senile, criminals, androids? What bestows 'importance'?
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 2. Social Utilitarianism
Sidwick argues for utilitarian institutions, rather than actions
                        Full Idea: Sidgwick's complex version of utilitarianism urges that institutions should be set in place to maximise utility, but that individual actions people undertake might not appear to be justifiable on utilitarian terms.
                        From: report of Henry Sidgwick (The Methods of Ethics (7th edn) [1874]) by Tuckness,A/Wolf,C - This is Political Philosophy 1 Refs
                        A reaction: This seems to be a specifically political version of utilitarianism, but isn't cited much by political philosophers who discuss utilitarianism.