Rethinking the Good: Moral Ideals and the Nature of Practical Reasoning

Research output: Book/ReportBook

118 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In choosing between moral alternatives-choosing between various forms of ethical action-we typically make calculations of the following kind: A is better than B; B is better than C; therefore A is better than C. These inferences use the principle of transitivity and are fundamental to many forms of practical and theoretical theorizing, not just in moral and ethical theory but in economics. Indeed they are so common as to be almost invisible. What this book shows is that, shockingly, if we want to continue making plausible judgments, we cannot continue to make these assumptions. The book shows that we are committed to various moral ideals that are, surprisingly, fundamentally incompatible with the idea that "better than" can be transitive. The book develops many examples where value judgments that we accept and find attractive, are incompatible with transitivity. While this might seem to leave two options-reject transitivity, or reject some of our normative commitments in order to keep it-the book's position is neutral on which path to follow, only making the case that a choice is necessary, and that the cost either way will be high. The book is a deeply unsettling work of skeptical philosophy that mounts an important new challenge to contemporary ethics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages640
ISBN (Electronic)9780199932214
ISBN (Print)9780199759446
DOIs
StatePublished - May 24 2012
EventRethinking the Good -
Duration: May 24 2012 → …

Fingerprint

Moral Ideals
Transitivity
Practical Reasoning
Fundamental
Economics
Costs
Transitive
Inference
Ethical Theory
Invisible
Value Judgements
Moral Theory
Philosophy

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

Keywords

  • Ethical action
  • Ethical theory
  • Moral alternatives
  • Moral ideals
  • Moral theory
  • Normative commitments
  • Principle of transitivity
  • Value judgments

Cite this

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Rethinking the Good : Moral Ideals and the Nature of Practical Reasoning. / Temkin, Larry.

Oxford University Press, 2012. 640 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

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