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Goodness and Advice (University Center for Human Values)

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Goodness and Advice (University Center for Human Values) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

How should we live? What do we owe to other people? In Goodness and Advice, the eminent philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson explores how we should go about answering such fundamental questions. In doing so, she makes major advances in moral philosophy, pointing to some deep problems for influential moral theories and describing the structure of a new and much more promising theory.

Thomson begins by lamenting the prevalence of the idea that there is an unbridgeable gap between fact and value--that to say something is good, for example, is not to state a fact, but to do something more like expressing an attitude or feeling. She sets out to challenge this view, first by assessing the apparently powerful claims of Consequentialism. Thomson makes the striking argument that this familiar theory must ultimately fail because its basic requirement--that people should act to bring about the "most good"--is meaningless. It rests on an incoherent conception of goodness, and supplies, not mistaken advice, but no advice at all.

Thomson then outlines the theory that she thinks we should opt for instead. This theory says that no acts are, simply, good: an act can at most be good in one or another way--as, for example, good for Smith or for Jones. What we ought to do is, most importantly, to avoid injustice; and whether an act is unjust is a function both of the rights of those affected, including the agent, and of how good or bad the act is for them. The book, which originated in the Tanner lectures that Thomson delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values in 1999, includes two chapters by Thomson ("Goodness" and "Advice"), provocative comments by four prominent scholars--Martha Nussbaum, Jerome Schneewind, Philip Fisher, and Barbara Herrnstein Smith--and replies by Thomson to those comments.

Synopsis:

"Contemporary moral philosophy at its best. Thomson's ground plan shows what conditions must be met by any adequate ethical theory. Her arguments are cogent, concise, and uncluttered by literary flourishes."--Mary Mothersill, Columbia University

"The main value of these lectures lies in the way Thomson develops moral theory beyond her earlier publications. Her style has always been quite distinctive, and I find it a pleasure to read."--Gilbert Harman, author of Thought

Synopsis:

How should we live? What do we owe to other people? In Goodness and Advice, the eminent philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson explores how we should go about answering such fundamental questions. In doing so, she makes major advances in moral philosophy, pointing to some deep problems for influential moral theories and describing the structure of a new and much more promising theory.

Thomson begins by lamenting the prevalence of the idea that there is an unbridgeable gap between fact and value--that to say something is good, for example, is not to state a fact, but to do something more like expressing an attitude or feeling. She sets out to challenge this view, first by assessing the apparently powerful claims of Consequentialism. Thomson makes the striking argument that this familiar theory must ultimately fail because its basic requirement--that people should act to bring about the "most good"--is meaningless. It rests on an incoherent conception of goodness, and supplies, not mistaken advice, but no advice at all.

Thomson then outlines the theory that she thinks we should opt for instead. This theory says that no acts are, simply, good: an act can at most be good in one or another way--as, for example, good for Smith or for Jones. What we ought to do is, most importantly, to avoid injustice; and whether an act is unjust is a function both of the rights of those affected, including the agent, and of how good or bad the act is for them. The book, which originated in the Tanner lectures that Thomson delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values in 1999, includes two chapters by Thomson ("Goodness" and "Advice"), provocative comments by four prominent scholars--Martha Nussbaum, Jerome Schneewind, Philip Fisher, and Barbara Herrnstein Smith--and replies by Thomson to those comments.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

Amy Gutmann vii

GOODNESS AND ADVICE

Judith Jarvis Thomson

Part One: Goodness 3

Part Two: Advice 43

COMMENTS

Philip Fisher 85

Martha C. Nussbaum 97

F. B. Schneewind 126

Barbara Herrnstein Smith 132

REPLY TO COMMENTATORS

Judith Jarvis Thomson 147

CONTRIBUTORS 181

INDEX 183

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691114736
Commentaries:
Fisher, Philip
Contribution:
Nussbaum, Martha C.
Contribution by:
Nussbaum, Martha C.
Contribution by:
Fisher, Philip
Contribution:
Fisher, Philip
Contribution:
Nussbaum, Martha C.
Author:
Thomson, Judith Jarvis
Author:
Smith, Barbara Herrnstein
Author:
Schneewind, J. B.
Author:
Fisher, Philip
Author:
Gutmann, Amy
Author:
Nussbaum, Martha C.
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
General
Subject:
Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
Political Science and International Relations
Subject:
Philosophy | Ethics
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
The University Center for Human Values Series
Publication Date:
January 2003
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 oz

Related Subjects

Humanities » Philosophy » Ethics
Humanities » Philosophy » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » General

Goodness and Advice (University Center for Human Values) New Trade Paper
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$29.75 In Stock
Product details 208 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691114736 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "Contemporary moral philosophy at its best. Thomson's ground plan shows what conditions must be met by any adequate ethical theory. Her arguments are cogent, concise, and uncluttered by literary flourishes."--Mary Mothersill, Columbia University

"The main value of these lectures lies in the way Thomson develops moral theory beyond her earlier publications. Her style has always been quite distinctive, and I find it a pleasure to read."--Gilbert Harman, author of Thought

"Synopsis" by , How should we live? What do we owe to other people? In Goodness and Advice, the eminent philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson explores how we should go about answering such fundamental questions. In doing so, she makes major advances in moral philosophy, pointing to some deep problems for influential moral theories and describing the structure of a new and much more promising theory.

Thomson begins by lamenting the prevalence of the idea that there is an unbridgeable gap between fact and value--that to say something is good, for example, is not to state a fact, but to do something more like expressing an attitude or feeling. She sets out to challenge this view, first by assessing the apparently powerful claims of Consequentialism. Thomson makes the striking argument that this familiar theory must ultimately fail because its basic requirement--that people should act to bring about the "most good"--is meaningless. It rests on an incoherent conception of goodness, and supplies, not mistaken advice, but no advice at all.

Thomson then outlines the theory that she thinks we should opt for instead. This theory says that no acts are, simply, good: an act can at most be good in one or another way--as, for example, good for Smith or for Jones. What we ought to do is, most importantly, to avoid injustice; and whether an act is unjust is a function both of the rights of those affected, including the agent, and of how good or bad the act is for them. The book, which originated in the Tanner lectures that Thomson delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values in 1999, includes two chapters by Thomson ("Goodness" and "Advice"), provocative comments by four prominent scholars--Martha Nussbaum, Jerome Schneewind, Philip Fisher, and Barbara Herrnstein Smith--and replies by Thomson to those comments.

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