A Preface to Morality by John Wilson (auth.)

By John Wilson (auth.)

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This makes it unsurprising that absolutists and philosophers who are dissatisfied with utilitarianism in general tend to adopt a theory of reasons for action which emphasises the primacy of (as Williams calls them, 1981) 'internal' reasons; whereas neo-utilitarians like Hare emphasise what they take to be external or logical pressures that arise from the wants or interests of other people besides the agent. The idea, which I have canvassed above, that any reason- more precisely, any justification - for action must refer to some desirable state of affairs is likely to be resisted by absolutists and those who stress internal reasons.

52-3). It is, actually, rather hard to saycertainly at this level of generality- just what dispositions would survive adherence to a thoroughgoing utilitarian doctrine; and if someone were to say that (for instance) some saintly person who devoted his life to famine relief, or medicine, or some other enterprise which utilitarianism seemed to demand of him (because 'Absolutism' and 'Consequentialism' 43 that was where he could do most good) could not be 'generous, affectionate, forceful, resolute, creative and actually happy', one would wonder what sense he attributed to those terms.

In effect, we sit round a negotiating table trying to decide what regimes or styles will be best for all of us or most of us; and whilst of course we may make mistakes, we negotiate with the common good in mind. ). To that extent, and in that sense, morality precisely is a device for our mutual profit. If justice and benevolence are not thought to be inherently profitable for the individual, then we shall see the business of moral education as essentially ad hoc and use any stick or carrot to persuade individuals to immerse themselves in the moral form of life and thought.

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