Sidgwick's Problem

Holley, David M.
March 2002
Ethical Theory & Moral Practice;Mar2002, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p45
Academic Journal
Henry Sidgwick regarded his failure to reconcile the claims of rational egoism with those of utilitarianism to reveal a "fundamental contradiction" within practical reason. However, the conflict that concerns him arises only in relation to a particular kind of agent. While Sidgwick construes his version of the problem to be a systematic formulation of a conflict that arises within the practical reasoning of ordinary people, it is actually an example of a worst-case scenario that reflects the common philosophical tendency to deal with issues in their most challenging form. But such a transformation of ordinary conflicts between self-interest and morality into an insoluble philosophical problem obscures the nature of the more typical practical conflict.


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