The scope of morality, Peter A. French contends, is much narrower than many traditional and contemporary works in ethical theory suggest. We trivialize morality if we think it has something to say about everything we do; it touches us all, but not at all times. This essay in philosophical ethics focuses upon the origin, purpose, and function of the various concepts to be found in a more or less mature morality. The author draws a distinction between moral concepts that arise from an individual’s wish to live a worthwhile life and those directed towards the development of virtue in the moral community. Moral concepts, in his view, are subjective creations of human beings rather than laws with an objective basis in nature. The ethics of sociobiology, of the lifeboat and spaceship models, and of game theory all come under his critical eye in this useful and progressive work. The Scope of Morality, says Hector-Neri Castaneda, “represents a serious effort at discussing the nature of morality, taking into account the most important contributions of recent writers.”
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