The Self‐Evident Axioms

J. B. Schneewind

in Sidgwick's Ethics and Victorian Moral Philosophy

Published in print November 1986 | ISBN: 9780198249313
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598357 | DOI:
 The Self‐Evident Axioms

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  • History of Western Philosophy


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An appeal to self-evidence and to what is intuitively given are not very satisfactory modes of solving philosophical problems; it often shuts off inquiry instead of answering ultimate questions. Sidgwick was aware of the shortcomings of the appeal to intuition and tried to avoid them. He interprets self-evidence in terms of the basic operations of ordinary reasoning, applied to practice. He takes the problem to be that of working out what the most fundamental demands of reason are, given the conditions of human life. He develops a traditional model of approach to basic axioms, and brings out new possibilities within it.

Keywords: Sidgwick; self-evidence; axioms; intuition

Chapter.  9653 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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