Leslie Stephen's <i>Science of Ethics</i>

Henry Sidgwick

in Essays on Ethics and Method

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250234
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598432 | DOI:

Series: British Moral Philosophers

 Leslie Stephen's Science of Ethics

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Sidgwick reviews what he regards as a thorough, but ultimately unsuccessful, attempt by Leslie Stephen to establish an ethical doctrine that aligns with the theory of evolution. Stephen engages in discussions that fall under three categories. The first is subjective psychology; Stephen analyses from the individual's perspective the kind of consciousness that precedes and determines volition. The second is sociology; his aim here is to develop a positive morality understood as a property of the social organism. The third kind of discussion falls under ethical theory; Stephen's purpose is to determine systematically the ideal code of morality. Although Stephen's work is to be praised for its abundance of pertinent observations and reflections, Sidgwick finds it lacking in ‘clearness of method and systematic arrangement.’

Keywords: ethical theory; evolution; morality; Sidgwick; sociology; Leslie Stephen; subjective psychology; volition

Chapter.  7920 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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