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Goodness & advice.

Thomson, Judith Jarvis.

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ISBN 10: 0691086737 / ISBN 13: 9780691086736
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Beschreibung

With commentary by : Philip Fisher, Martha C. Nussbaum, J.B. Schneewind, and Barbara Herrnstein Smith. Edited and introduced by Amy Gutmann. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press , 2001. Orig. cloth binding. Dustjacket. xvi,188 pp. 24 cm. (The University Center for Human Values series). Condition : very good copy. ISBN 0691086737[KEYWORDS: PHILOSOPHY*, ethics. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 94402

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Titel: Goodness & advice.

Einband: Hardcover

Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included

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Inhaltsangabe:


How should we live? What do we owe to other people? In Goodness and Advice, the eminent philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson explores how we should go about answering such fundamental questions. In doing so, she makes major advances in moral philosophy, pointing to some deep problems for influential moral theories and describing the structure of a new and much more promising theory.


Thomson begins by lamenting the prevalence of the idea that there is an unbridgeable gap between fact and value--that to say something is good, for example, is not to state a fact, but to do something more like expressing an attitude or feeling. She sets out to challenge this view, first by assessing the apparently powerful claims of Consequentialism. Thomson makes the striking argument that this familiar theory must ultimately fail because its basic requirement--that people should act to bring about the "most good"--is meaningless. It rests on an incoherent conception of goodness, and supplies, not mistaken advice, but no advice at all.


Thomson then outlines the theory that she thinks we should opt for instead. This theory says that no acts are, simply, good: an act can at most be good in one or another way--as, for example, good for Smith or for Jones. What we ought to do is, most importantly, to avoid injustice; and whether an act is unjust is a function both of the rights of those affected, including the agent, and of how good or bad the act is for them. The book, which originated in the Tanner lectures that Thomson delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values in 1999, includes two chapters by Thomson ("Goodness" and "Advice"), provocative comments by four prominent scholars--Martha Nussbaum, Jerome Schneewind, Philip Fisher, and Barbara Herrnstein Smith--and replies by Thomson to those comments.


Review:

Goodness and Advice has the delightful feel of a many-sided conversation. Editor Amy Gutmann contributes an introduction, and there are four commentaries in addition to philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson's centerpieces ("Goodness" and "Advice"), as well as Thomson's response to the commentators. Thomson has perfected the argument by analogy. Her examples, which can sometimes seem apropos of nothing, have earned a reputation for their aesthetic and logical strength. In her skilled hands, when a fictional fellow named Alfred rings a doorbell, he unleashes a swarm of stinging ethical questions: "We may suppose that Alfred's pressing the doorbell caused many other events to occur.... More generally, for a person to act is for a battery of events to occur ... for a person to act is for the world to go in a way that it otherwise would not." Thus, Thomson expertly immerses the reader in the sea of moral philosophy.

Thomson's writing here emerged from her Tanner Lectures on Human Values at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. The commentary voices of Philip Fisher, Martha C. Nussbaum, J.B. Schneewind, and Barbara Herrnstein Smith add grist to Thomson's mill. Her work in this volume centers on a critique of ethical consequentialism (the view that an action's ethical worth is determined by its consequences) and a draft of a theory about what people ought to do. Thomson's ineluctable reasoning makes for good philosophy that is enlivened by her penchant for hypothetical examples. --Eric de Place

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