Show Less

From Meta-Ethics to Ethics

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


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.


Show Summary Details
Restricted access

6. The two levels of moral thinking: the recent account of moral theory 157


6. The two levels of moral thinking: the recent account of moral theory 6.1 Introduction In the previous chapter we discussed somewhat extensively Hare's central claim that the agent who reasons in accordance with the rules of Universal Prescriptiv- ism is logically bound to end up with moral judgements such as a Utilitarian would accept. We also showed that the kind of Utilitarianism which he thus reaches is, according to Hare, neither rule- nor act-Utilitarianism; rather, given his formal thesis of universalizability, the type of Utilitarian theory which Uni- versal Prescriptivism implies is a kind of rule-Utilitarianism which can become so specific as to apply to one particular case and thus be indistinguishable from act-Utilitarianism. Thus are Hare's views so far as they have been propounded and evolved in his book FR. Although the development from the kind of theses he puts forward in LM to those of FR is quite obvious, it is not in the least the final one. In the writings which come after FR Hare has gradually started to modify his views and to develop them even further. This modification, in my opinion, becomes explicit in the article "Principles", with its distinction between the two levels of moral thinking, and culminates in the book MT in which Hare effectively brings out the bearing that the two levels of moral thinking have upon our moral life and our social life in general. One might perhaps argue, and indeed many philosophers have argued, that Hare's recent views do...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.