This book critiques contemporary trends in ethical theory, including the deontological tradition dating back to Kant, the teleological tradition of the utilitarians, the analytic movement, and the existentialist-phenomenologist movement. In refuting these trends, Veatch argues that moral and ethical distinctions cannot be rightly or adequately understood if they are regarded simply as matters of linguistic use but are grounded in the very being and nature of things.
This modern interpretation of Aristotelian ethics is ideally suited for undergraduate philosophy courses. It is also an engaging work for the expert and the beginner alike, offering a middle ground between existential and analytic ethics. Veatch argues for the existence of ethical knowledge, and he reasons that this knowledge is grounded in human nature. Yet he contends that the moral life is not merely one of following rules or recipes, nor is human well being something simple. Rather, the moral life, (...) which Veatch calls 'rational or intelligent living', is the life of practical wisdom where individual judgement of the particular and the contingent is paramount. Veatch's Rational Man offers a pluralistic understanding of human well being without lapsing into moral relativism. For those interested in morality and liberty, Rational Man offers fertile ground for developing an account of free and responsible persons. It has profoundly influenced the work of Den Uyl, Campbell, Machan, Miller, Mack, and many others. (shrink)
“Modern ethics,” so-called, has only in the most recent years come under some very sharp and telling, not to say even devastating, criticism. And what is it that one should understand by this term, “modern ethics”? Well, it is a term used largely by very recent critics to designate that whole tradition in ethics, in part utilitarian and in part Kantian in character, that has quite dominated the study of ethics, at least in Anglo-American philosophy, for upwards of three-quarters of (...) a century and more now. (shrink)
It is with these words that Alan Gewirth opened his 1972 Lindley Lecture at the University of Kansas. And he immediately followed up his opening words with a more or less blanket indictment of almost the entire group of contemporary writers on meta-ethics, who, he would aver, while claiming to be "rationalists" in the matter of the rational justification of moral principles, and while making much of how far they have distanced themselves from the old-line emotivists in this very regard, (...) have nevertheless just not brought it off, so far as their own provision for any such rational justification is concerned. Thus while the emotivists had tended to hold that such reasons as a person might give in support of moral principles could not really function as reasons, but only as causes that might impel or compel acceptance of such principles, the latter-day "rationalists," as Gewirth calls them, insist that good reasons are always in order and logically relevant, so far as any moral or even evaluative judgment is concerned. Indeed, merely to call a thing good, or to judge an action right or wrong, already implies that such a judgment is put forward as one that is universalizable and for which good reasons can be given. Unfortunately, however,—Gewirth goes on to insist—reasons and justifications of this sort turn out, even on the admission of the rationalists themselves, to be valid only on the prior assumption of what might be called "the moral point of view.". (shrink)
This book is a consideration of the differences between Aristotelian and symbolic logic (and the metaphysical assumptions they come packaged with) and the consequences these have for how we view the world. What Veatch propose is to try to exhibit with respect to several of the key logical tools and devices – propositions, inductive and deductive arguments, scientific and historical explanations, definitions, etc. – how these several instruments are differently conceived, both as to their natures and their functions, in each (...) of these respective logics. (shrink)
When the very possibility of a Christian philosophy was raised in the celebrated Bréhier-Gilson debate over half-a-century ago, there could have been no mistaking the issue in the debate. On the one hand, it was asked how any philosopher could properly think of himself as a Christian philosopher, if his philosophy were to be regarded as warranted simply on his faith as a Christian. For that presumably meant that one’s philosophy was seriously compromised by its appeal to something clearly extra-philosophical—viz. (...) to divine revelation. On the other hand, and no less embarrassing, was the complementary question: How could one very well claim to be a Christian philosopher without seeming thereby seriously to compromise one’s Christian faith by falling back on philosophy as something necessary to support and justify the faith that was within one? Surely, if one’s Christianity should turn out to be something ever in need of reinforcement from philosophy, that could only mean that one’s faith as a Christian was really no genuine faith at all. (shrink)