Ethical Project

ISBN-10: 0674061446

ISBN-13: 9780674061446

Edition: 2011

Authors: Philip Kitcher

List price: $55.00
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Principles of right and wrong guide the lives of almost all human beings, but we often see them as external to ourselves, outside our own control. In a revolutionary approach to the problems of moral philosophy, Philip Kitcher makes a provocative proposal: Instead of conceiving ethical commands as divine revelations or as the discoveries of brilliant thinkers, we should see our ethical practices as evolving over tens of thousands of years, as members of our species have worked out how to live together and prosper. Elaborating this radical new vision, Kitcher shows how the limited altruistic tendencies of our ancestors enabled a fragile social life, how our forebears learned to regulate their interactions with one another, and how human societies eventually grew into forms of previously unimaginable complexity. The most successful of the many millennia-old experiments in how to live, he contends, survive in our values today. Drawing on natural science, social science, and philosophy to develop an approach he calls #x1C;pragmatic naturalism,#x1D; Kitcher reveals the power of an evolving ethics built around a few core principles-including justice and cooperation-but leaving room for a diversity of communities and modes of self-expression. Ethics emerges as a beautifully human phenomenon-permanently unfinished, collectively refined and distorted generation by generation. Our human values, Kitcher shows, can be understood not as a final system but as a project-the ethical project-in which our species has engaged for most of its history, and which has been central to who we are.
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Book details

List price: $55.00
Copyright year: 2011
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 11/7/2011
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 420
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.50" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.650
Language: English

Philip Kitcher is John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University.

The Shape of Things to Come
Methodological Preliminaries
An Analytical History
The Springs of Sympathy
Psychological Altruism: Basics
The Varieties of Altruistic Reactions
Some Dimensions of Altruism
Maternal Concern
Broader Forms of Altruism?
Possibilities of Evolutionary Explanation
The Coalition Game
Normative Guidance
The Limits of Altruism
Following Orders
Social Embedding
Experiments of Living
From There to Here
Cultural Competition
The Unseen Enforcer
Some Dots to Be Connected
Divisions of Labor
Roles, Rules, and Institutions
Altruism Expanded
One Thing after Another?
Mere Change?
Three Ancient Examples
Second-Sex Citizens
Repudiating Chattel Slavery
The Withering of Vice
The Divine Commander
A Metaethical Perspective
Troubles with Truth
Taking Stock
Prima Facie Problems
Truth, Realism and Constructivism
The Sources of the Troubles
Possibilities of Progress
The Centrality of Ethical Progress
Generalizations from History
Problems, Functions and Progress
Modes of Refinement
Functional Generation
Local and Global Progress
Ethical Truth Revisited
Residual Concerns
Naturalistic Fallacies?
Hume's Challenge
Authority Undermined?
Troublesome Characters
Settling Disputes
A Normative Stance
Progress, Equality, and the Good
Two Visions of Normative Ethics
Dynamic Consequentialism
Failures and Successes
From the Local Community to the Human Population
Equality and the Good Life
Population Size
Aspects of the Good Life
Method in Ethics
Varieties of Ethical Change
Method and the Good
Mutual Engagement
Ethical Debate
Dissent and the Limits of Tolerance
The Challenger Revisited
Renewing the Project
Philosophical Midwifery
Scarce Resources
Habits and Their Limits
Conflicting Roles
Ethically Insulated Spheres
Maintaining Equality
The Challenges of Technology
Summing Up
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