Moral Philosophy Of Moore

Moral Philosophy Of Moore

Robert Peter Sylvester
Foreword by TOM REGAN
Copyright Date: 1990
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 240
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Moral Philosophy Of Moore
    Book Description:

    This study of G. E. Moore's work in moral philosophy draws upon a close examination of the early essays that preceded the writing ofPrincipia Ethicain order to ground the author's view that Moore's famous "naturalistic fallacy argument" ofPrincipiahas been widely misunderstood. At the time of his death in 1986, Robert Peter Sylvester was in the process of preparing this book for publication. That process has been brought to completion by Ray Perkins, Jr., and R. W. Sleeper. Sylvester's reappraisal of the moral philosophy of G. E. Moore argues that criticism of the work of this major twentieth-century British philosopher has been based on misinterpretation of his unified position. He treats Moore's ideas about "What is Good?", "What things are Good?" and "What ought we to do?" as forming a coherent system.

    To bring this work up to date since the author's death, the editors have provided a bibliographic essay following each chapter in which recent scholarship is discussed.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0169-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Editors’ Introduction
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Ray Perkins Jr. and R. W. Sleeper

    The posthumous publication of any author’s work must be the result of decisions reached by others. In making such decisions the author’s own clear intent to publish, although central to the process, is but one factor. Equally important is the merit of the work itself. Our decision to accept the responsibility of acting as co-editors of this book is based primarily, and equally, on both these factors. What follows is a brief account of the circumstances under which that decision was reached.

    Not long after Professor Sylvester died in November of 1986, we came into possession of a copy of...

  4. Foreword
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    Tom Regan

    Robert P. Sylvester’sThe Moral Philosophy of G. E. Mooreis first and foremost a work of discriminating scholarship. Its publication would gratify even Moore’s severest critic—Moore himself. For like Moore, Sylvester is steadfastly determined to sayexactlywhat he means or, as is often the case,exactlywhat Moore means. Such dedication has not always characterized Moorean scholarship. Heralded in his later years as the defender of common sense, Moore had a less well-known and appreciated attraction to speculative metaphysics in his youth. Those who would understand Moore’s moral philosophy, especially his groundbreakingPrincipia Ethica(1903), are well...

  5. Author’s Preface
    (pp. xix-2)
    Robert P. Sylvester
  6. I Good: The Value Predicate
    (pp. 3-34)

    G. E. Moore initiated a major revolution in moral philosophy by proposing that its central concept is an indefinable, non-natural object of thought. The word ‘good’ names this unique and simple object, Moore held, and it is the being of this object that, on certain occasions, qualifies things and events in the world of existences, rendering them of intrinsic value. This extraordinary proposal was systematically developed inPrincipia Ethica, Moore’s first book-length publication, in 1903. Nine years later in his second book,Ethics, Moore expressed the same general view but argued the case in somewhat different terms. The later work...

  7. II Intuition (I): A First Look
    (pp. 35-58)

    How do we know what things are good in the world? A preliminary analysis of what Moore means by the concept good is given in Chapter I, for it is necessary, according to Moore, to clarify the proper meaning of ‘good’ before turning to other questions of ethics. Moreover, until good’s ontological status can be determined, other questions, including the one posed above, tend to become confused with the question ‘What is good?’ We now know that Moore’s answer to ‘What is good?’ is that good is a simple, unanalyzable object of thought; that good’s ontological status is independent of...

  8. III Intuition (II): A Second Look
    (pp. 59-86)

    The varieties of intuitionism in ethical thought have given rise to several misunderstandings of the meaning and function of intuition in Moore’s moral philosophy. As we have seen in the preceding chapter, one mistake comes about from the erroneous assumption that Moore gives an unqualified intuitionist answer to all three of the central questions of ethics that Moore himself distinguishes. Another seems to be the result of reliance upon a general criticism of intuitionism that misses its target altogether when applied to Moore’s unique version. Both mistakes might have been avoided had Moore’s critics attended to the important distinctions between...

  9. IV Value Judgment: The General Theory
    (pp. 87-110)

    In the autobiographical essay written for theLibrary of Living Philosophersvolume honoring his work, Moore reviews the early stages of his career. He points out that from 1896 through 1898 he was working to win a fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge. The fruits of his studies on Kant’s philosophy during this period were eventually published in two issues ofMind. But he also points out that during this period he was working through the metaphysical views of McTaggart and Bradley, trying to free himself from his initial acceptance of the idealism that had so long been in vogue at...

  10. V. Judgments In Particular Contexts
    (pp. 111-130)

    Whenever we make actual aesthetic or moral judgments, we do so in some actual contexts in which we may be said to ‘live through’ the judgments we make. In this chapter I want to examine Moore’s treatment of what it means to ‘live through’ such judgments. Hence I am not primarily concerned with theoretical or philosophical judgments as such, though the nature of such judgments provides the background against which practical judgments are made. I am interested in examining Moore’s account of what is involved in actually judging that something is beautiful, or that some action is right, or that...

  11. VI. Ontology and Non-natural Qualities
    (pp. 131-156)

    Granting that the notion of good is central to Moore’s moral philosophy, it is essential that we be as clear as possible as to the sense in which the doctrine holds that good is the unique quality it is said to be. As we have seen, the general view is that good isinthings; it is a property of the things it is in. But Moore tell us that it is not a natural property of them. Nor is it a subjective predicate projected onto the things it qualifies. Good is held to be objective and, in this sense,...

  12. VII Fact and Value: The Logic of Moral Discourse
    (pp. 157-184)

    The doctrine known as the naturalistic fallacy brings Moore’s name to mind more surely than any other for which he could claim authorship. Its notoriety, however, depends on a variety of applications quite independent of Moore’s own use of it inPrincipia Ethica. In his own work the use of the fallacy as an instrument of criticism remains embedded in the context of the 1903 text, and only there.

    It may seem odd that there is no mention of this distinctive doctrine inEthicsor in the crucial essay “The Concept of Intrinsic Value.” It is not cited in “The...

  13. VIII Choice, Consciousness, and Freedom: The Moral Self
    (pp. 185-218)

    There are a number of issues in moral philosophy that Moore never explicitly discusses but are nonetheless important to consider. Some mention of these is made in theEthics, and I have touched upon a few of them already. Such issues as the role of motive and the analysis of moral praise and blame are acknowledged by Moore as important for moral philosophy, but he chooses not to study them as such. Moore views his work as prefatory to the consideration of all such matters, reckoning on the issues he does attend to as fundamental. The fact that Moore does...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 219-224)
  15. Index
    (pp. 225-231)