Guy Axtell
Radford University
The centennial of Dewey & Tuft’s Ethics (1908) provides a timely opportunity to reflect both on Dewey’s intellectual debt to utilitarian thought, and on his critique of it. In this paper I examine Dewey’s assessment of utilitarianism, but also his developing view of the good (ends; consequences), the right (rules; obligations) and the virtuous (approbations; standards) as “three independent factors in morals.” This doctrine (found most clearly in the 2nd edition of 1932) as I argue in the last sections, has significant forward-going implications for debates in ethics, insofar as it functions to deflate debates among ethicists that turns on claims about the conceptual primacy of any one of these three ethical concepts over the other two. To find what “permanent value each group contributes to the clarification and direction of reflective morality” was the task Dewey set for himself. But to carry that project through demands showing also why the application of considerations of ends, rules, and virtues to problems of practice is not quite as many self-described utilitarians, deontologists, and virtue ethicists conceive it
Keywords John Dewey  ethical theory  virtue ethics  pluralism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Modern Moral Philosophy.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1958 - Philosophy 33 (124):1 - 19.
Moral Arguments.Philippa Foot - 1958 - Mind 67 (268):502-513.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
454 ( #18,867 of 2,462,825 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
9 ( #78,663 of 2,462,825 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes