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Local Justice

T.M. Scanlon, 5 September 1985

Morality and Conflict 
by Stuart Hampshire.
Blackwell, 175 pp., £18.50, September 1984, 0 631 13336 4
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Spheres of Justice: A Defence of Pluralism and Equality 
by Michael Walzer.
Blackwell, 343 pp., £15, September 1984, 0 631 14063 8
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... Has contemporary moral and political philosophy placed too much emphasis on a mistaken search for ‘rational foundations’ for our moral beliefs? A number of recent writers have suggested in various ways that it has. Two stimulating books by Michael Walzer and by Stuart Hampshire make distinctive contributions to this debate. Both are more personal than most books in moral philosophy, and each gives the clear sense of an author working to understand and articulate values about which he cares deeply ...


Thomas Nagel: What We Owe to Each Other by T.M. Scanlon, 4 February 1999

What We Owe to Each Other 
by T.M. Scanlon.
Harvard, 480 pp., £21.95, February 1999, 0 674 95089 5
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... and suggest that an accurate account of morality and its role in life will not be simple. Thomas Scanlon’s understanding of this complexity and of its sources in the variety of human relations and values is one of the virtues of this illuminating book. To say that it is long awaited would be an understatement. ...

Shoulds and Shouldn’ts

Allan Gibbard: What is blame?, 28 May 2009

Moral Dimensions: Permissibility, Meaning, Blame 
by T.M. Scanlon.
Harvard, 247 pp., £19.95, September 2008, 978 0 674 03178 4
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... reap good publicity. He does what morality demands, but not for the reasons that demand it. T.M. Scanlon’s new book Moral Dimensions plays on the two kinds of moral evaluation this case illustrates: the permissibility of an act, and the meaning of the way one does it. Half the book uses this distinction negatively, to refute two widespread claims about why ...

Human Welfare

Paul Seabright, 18 August 1983

Utilitarianism and Beyond 
edited by Amartya Sen and Bernard Williams.
Cambridge, 290 pp., £20, June 1982, 0 521 24296 7
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... about now that the theological underpinnings of traditional morality have crumbled, and a waste of time to argue over that when the technical obstacles are so pressing. At other times the very elusiveness of welfare, happiness and related notions can make it seem equally obvious that the whole enterprise is shot through with hubris. And yet utilitarianism ...

In the Long Cool Hour

Amia Srinivasan: Pragmatic Naturalism, 6 December 2012

The Ethical Project 
by Philip Kitcher.
Harvard, 422 pp., £36.95, November 2011, 978 0 674 06144 6
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... what is it that actually drives these psychologists in precisely this direction all the time? Nietzsche’s complaint is not that morality should be protected from explanation – this passage opens On the Genealogy of Morality – but rather that the ‘English psychologists’ appear to be driven by self-loathing. Under the cover of cool ...

Five Girls on a Rock

Allan Gibbard: Derek Parfit, 7 June 2012

On What Matters 
by Derek Parfit.
Oxford, 540 pp. and 825 pp., £30, May 2011, 978 0 19 926592 3
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... answer. Act only, Kant’s Categorical Imperative commands, by that maxim you can will at the same time to be a universal law. The spur to morality is reverence for this law. We must always respect the rational nature that makes us human. Kant’s formulas, many philosophers think, explain why our intuition abhors the thought of killing the young man for his ...

Ruck in the Carpet

Glen Newey: Political Morality, 9 July 2009

Philosophy and Real Politics 
by Raymond Geuss.
Princeton, 116 pp., £11.95, October 2008, 978 0 691 13788 9
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... whereas morals are for ever, politics is just one damn thing after another. Eternity is a long time in politics. Unlike most historians, philosophers see the contrast as working to the disadvantage of politics. The idea seems to be that morality is grander than politics, because it is more amenable to reason, for example, or has a longer use-by date; so ...

What is rude?

Thomas Nagel: Midgley, Murdoch, Anscombe, Foot, 10 February 2022

The Women Are up to Something: How Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley and Iris Murdoch Revolutionised Ethics 
by Benjamin J.B. Lipscomb.
Oxford, 326 pp., £20, November 2021, 978 0 19 754107 4
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Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life 
by Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman.
Chatto, 398 pp., £25, February, 978 1 78474 328 4
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... like, their deep connections with one another, and the impact they had on the philosophy of their time. But they differ in scope and emphasis, so it is well worthwhile to read them both. Benjamin Lipscomb is American; Clare Mac Cumhaill is Irish and Rachael Wiseman is British. His book covers a longer time span, and goes ...

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