|Utilitas (2004), 16:2:168-183 Cambridge University Press|
Copyright © 2004 Cambridge University Press
Sidgwick's Conception of Ethics
J. B. Schneewind's Sidgwick's Ethics and Victorian Moral Philosophy surpassed all previous treatments of Sidgwick's The Methods of Ethics by showing how Sidgwick's work follows a coherent plan of argument for a conception of ethics as grounded in practical reason. Schneewind offered his interpretation as the product of a historical rather than a critical study. This article undertakes a critical study of Sidgwick's work based on Schneewind's interpretation. Its thesis is that the conception of ethics for which Sidgwick argued is incoherent. As a result, it is argued, the coherent plan of argument in the Methods that Schneewind disclosed masks a deep incoherence in the argument itself.