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)
Taking metaphysics in its aristotelian sense to mean the investigation of being qua being, The author contends that its "matrix" (its place of origin, Field of operations, And continuing and ultimate point of reference) is everyday life, Characterized by its practical or existential inescapability. He then examines the charge that the truths of metaphysics illegitimately claim to be both necessary and factual, And argues in response that the objection rests upon a confusion of the character of one's intentional instrument (the (...) sentence or proposition) with that of the object intended. (staff). (shrink)
It is fashionable now-a-days to regard Aristotle’s logic as being the skeleton in the closet of Aristotelian philosophy. As Miss Anscombe has acidly remarked, “Aristotle himself … misconceived the importance of the categorical syllogism, supposing that the theory of it gave him the key to the nature of scientific knowledge. He expresses this view in what I find his worst book: Book I of the Posterior Analytics.”.
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)
TODAY it would seem to be rather generally assumed that Kant had posed a problem for any future metaphysics which no future metaphysics has either been able to solve, or perhaps even tried very hard to solve. And it would further seem to be the consensus that Kant's famous challenge to metaphysics really turned on what, in the broad sense of the term, might be called a set of simple logical considerations, viz. that any judgment, and hence any metaphysical judgment, (...) must needs be either analytic or synthetic; that if metaphysical judgments be analytic, then, in modern parlance, they cannot be truths about the world; and that if they be synthetic, they cannot very well be empirical truths, since they would then be lacking in those very properties of necessity and universality which Kant felt had to characterize metaphysical truths, if such there be. Accordingly, on the Kantian analysis there is no logical slot left for metaphysical judgments save that of the synthetic a priori. And into this slot, for the well-known Kantian reasons, metaphysical judgments cannot seem to be fitted. (shrink)
Can right reason, Properly understood, Provide a justification for our moral duties? modern deontological or kantian type ethical theories generally argue that moral duties are duties to perform certain actions "without" reference to any end to be achieved. But rational action, I.E., Action dictated by practical reason cannot be other than purposive action, I.E., Action directed toward some end to be achieved. As such, Deontology must fail in its attempt to answer the question, Why be moral at all. Turning to (...) teleological theories, The author distinguishes so-Called hedonistic theories, Those in which an end is good merely because it is desired from natural law theories, Those in which the end is desired because it is subjectively good. Because hedonistic teleological theories involve no more than purely prudential considerations of one's own interests, Judgments as to what ought to be done can only be rationally justified in terms of an objective end. (shrink)
But there's no good in our merely feeling sorry for ourselves. Instead, we might do well to read and seriously reflect upon the example set by Professor C. A. Campbell's On Selfhood and Godhood. For imagine anyone in the present dispensation of insular philosophy in Great Britain writing a book on selfhood and Godhood, of all things! This might have been all very well for the Gifford lectures of 50 years ago, and yet the present book comprises the Gifford lectures (...) of 1953-54 and '54-55. Nor is Professor Campbell himself unaware of being a seeming anachronism. For in his very preface, he flatly declares, "Readers of this book will not be long in discovering my inability to do obeisance to the twin gods of so much recent British philosophy--empiricism and linguisticism". And he then goes on blandly to acknowledge that for this reason he may very well be classed among those authors who are but "philosophic Rip Van Winkles talking in their sleep". For that matter he is not averse, every now and again, to interject a wry aside of the following type: "I propose to lead up to my own view, etc.". (shrink)