Fowler's Progressive Morality

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

 Fowler's    Progressive Morality

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In this essay, Sidgwick analyses Fowler's attempt to develop a scientific conception of morality that addresses practical applications rather than theoretical difficulties. After distinguishing the moral sanction (that internal feeling of approbation or disapprobation for one's acts) from the legal sanction and the social sanction, Fowler turns to the central issue of how we are to justify the application of the moral sanction as the supreme and final sanction in cases of conflict. In his response to this question, Sidgwick suggests that Fowler oscillates between Hume's view, that moral sentiment or strong feeling puts the final stamp of approbation or disapprobation on actions or character, and the incompatible view, that moral judgments or opinions (not sentiments) determine the rightness of action.

Keywords: conflict; Fowler; Hume; legal sanction; moral sanction; morality; sentiment; Sidgwick

Chapter.  2717 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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