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On Morality's having a Point

  • D. Z. Phillips (a1) and H. O. Mounce (a1)

In 1958, moral philosophers were given rather startling advice. They were told that their subject was not worth pursuing further until they possessed an adequate philosophy of psychology. What is needed, they were told, is an enquiry into what type of characteristic a virtue is, and, furthermore, it was suggested that this question could be resolved in part by exploring the connection between what a man ought to do and what he needs: perhaps man needs certain things in order to flourish, just as a plant needs water; and perhaps what men need are the virtues, courage, honesty, loyalty, etc. Thus, in telling a man that he ought to be honest, we should not be using any special (moral) sense of ought: a man ought to be honest just as a plant ought to be watered. The ‘ought’ is the same: it tells us what a man needs.

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page 308 note 1 Anscombe G. E. M.: ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’, Philosophy, Jan. 1958.

page 308 note 2 See ‘Moral Beliefs’, Arist. Soc.Proc, 1958;‘Moral Arguments’, Mind, 1958;Goodnessand Choice’, Arist. Soc. Proc, Supp. Vol. 35 (1961).

page 308 note 3 See Mary Warnock's Introduction to ‘Utilitarianism’, Fontana Ed. (1962), p. 31.

page 308 note 4 Max Black: ‘The Gap Between “Is” And “Should” ’, Philosophical Review, April, 1964.

page 308 note 5 G. H. von Wright: ‘The Varieties of Goodness’, Routledge, 1963.

page 308 note 6 See Peters R. S. and Griffiths A. S. Phillips: ‘TheAutonomy of Prudence’, Mind, 1962.

page 308 note 7 See Richard Wollheim's Introduction to Bradley's ‘Ethical Studies’, O.U.P. Paperback Ed. (1962), p. xvi.

page 309 note 1 Sec Mrs Foot's excellent paper, ‘When Is A Principle A Moral Principle?’, Arist. Soc. Proc., Supp. Vol. 28 (1954).

page 314 note 1 We owe this example to Dr H. S. Price.

page 316 note 1 ‘Moral Beliefs’, pp. 96–97.

page 316 note 2 We owe it to Mr Rush Rhees.

page 317 note 1 Georges Sorel: ‘Reflections On Violence’, trans, by Hulme T. E., Collier Books Ed. (1961), pp. 229230.

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  • ISSN: 0031-8191
  • EISSN: 1469-817X
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