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Sidgwick Ideas and Concepts.docx

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Boston College
PHIL 1070

Sidgwick Ideas and Concepts • Aim of the paper: find a way to define Ethics that is generally accepted • Original definition of ethics – what relates to character as distinct from intellect • Aristotelian view - ethics encompasses what is ultimately good or desirable for humans o Emphasizes what is desirable “for man” as opposed to what is good for the universe, which is the main subject of Theology o In Platonism, ethics and theology were blended into one • He says Theology and ethics are not completely separate because when we contemplate the good of the universe, the individual good of man is included in that • Theology, in comparison, is aboutAbsolute Good or the Good of the Universe o There is some sort of ultimate end or Good • Politics is also concerned with the good of men as members of states o Politics is about the welfare of man within a larger state, so ethics is commonly used to describe the ways people go about securing the good of the state or determining what political institutions are good or bad • “Private Ethics” – the good or wellbeing of man by the rational activity of individuals o What is the difference between private ethics and political ethics?  Individuals are members of some political or governmental entity and their virtues are exhibited in how they deal with other people, and their pleasures and pains come from their interactions with others • Private ethics is relevant to politics because people find their pleasure through interactions with other and the well-being of their community  Astatesman’s main concern should be the well-being of his community as individuals, so investigating this well-being has a place in politics • When thinking about ethics in relation to the individual, you must also look into Psychology, the study of the human mind and human behavior o Good of man cannot be anything external (wealth, gold, etc.), even though we as humans tend to judge good or bad determined by external effect of actions  Sidgwick says that these judgments are superficial o In order for an action to be considered morally good, there must be an intention or a purpose to it  The way we commonly judge good or bad is based on the effects of our actions on the sentiments of others  Ethics directly relates to psychology, because human emotion is related to the moral code and is a factor when deciding if an action is good or bad. • The wellbeing of humans is related directly to the quality of its activity (Virtue).  Psychology further studies the pleasure and pain as consequences of actions and the relations between different
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