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From Meta-Ethics to Ethics

An Overview of R. M. Hare’s Moral Philosophy

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Eleni M. Kalokairinou

This book brings out the way in which the twentieth century philosopher R. M. Hare has attempted to break the deadlock to which his contemporary moral theories had been led, i.e. irrationalism and relativism. Taking his point of departure from these theories, he suggests that the logical rules we reach from the linguistic analysis of moral language can have implications on the normative level, which in their form are in agreement with the principle of utility. So he differs from his contemporary philosophers because he argues that we engage in moral philosophy with a view to clarifying and solving the practical problems we face in life. In this sense he is an ardent defender of the practical relevance of philosophy. Hare’s moral account is closely analyzed in this book and his main theses are tested not only for internal coherence but also for their capacity to resist all rational criticism.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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xi TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction 1 1. Hare's predecessors 5 1.1 Introduction 5 1.1.1 Descriptivism versus Non-Descriptivism 7 1.1.1.1. Naturalism 10 1.1.1.1.1 Objective Naturalism 11 1.1.1.1.2 Subjective Naturalism 14 1.1.1.2 Intuitionism 18 1.1.2 Non-Descriptivism 23 1.1.2.1 Emotivism 24 2. The logical features of moral language 31 2.1 Introduction 31 2.2 Prescriptivity 32 2.2.1 Some basic objections 38 2.3 Universalizability 47 2.3.1 The universalizability thesis criticized 54 3. The non-logical ingredients of moral argument 69 3.1 Introduction 69 3.2 The factual element of moral argument 70 3.2.1 The way the relevant facts come into moral argument 71 3.3 The evaluative element of moral reasoning; our freedom to choose anything we like 72 3.3.1 From decisions of principle to preference satisfactions: a systematic development 74 3.4 The role of imagination in moral argument: some related difficulties 78 TABLE OF CONTENTS xii 3.4.1 Imagining oneself in somebody else's position, some further problems 84 4. Imperative logic and decisions of principle: the Existentialist phase of moral reasoning 89 4.1 Introduction 89 4.2 Imperatives and the Phrastics-Neustics theory 90 4.3 The Phrastics-Neustics theory revised 93 4.3.1 Some difficulties concerning the Phrastics - Neustics - Tropics- Clistics theory and the imperative inference in general 97 4.4 Moral reasoning in LM 124 5. The Universal Prescriptivist kind of Utilitarianism: the formalistic stage of moral argument 139 5.1 Introduction 139 5.2 Moral reasoning in FR 140 5.3 Universal Prescriptivism as the formal foundation of Utilitarianism 145 5.3.1 The kind of Utilitarian theory which Universal Prescriptivism implies 148 5.4...

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