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Hills, Alison, , . Is ethics rationally required?
2004, Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 47(1): 1-19.
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Added by: Graham Bex-Priestley, Contributed by:

Abstract: Sidgwick argued that utilitarianism was not rationally required because it could not be shown that a utilitarian theory of practical reason was better justified than a rival egoist theory of practical reason: there is a ‘dualism of practical reason’ between utilitarianism and egoism. In this paper, it is demonstrated that the dualism argument also applies to Kant’s moral theory, the moral law. A prudential theory that is parallel to the moral law is devised, and it is argued that the moral law is no better justified than this prudential theory. So the moral law is not rationally required. It is suggested that the dualism argument is a completely general argument that ethics cannot be rationally required.

Comment: This is a good and fairly accessible argument that casts doubt on the project of deriving morality from reason. It can be used alongside Kantian approaches to metaethics or reasons constituvism.

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Lovibond, Sabina, , . Ethical Formation
2002, Harvard University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Sabina Lovibond invites her readers to see how the ‘practical reason view of ethics’ can survive challenges from within philosophy and from the antirationalist postmodern critique of reason.
She elaborates and defends a modern practical-reason view of ethics by focusing on virtue or ideal states of character that involve sensitivity to the objective reasons circumstances bring into play. At the heart of her argument is the Aristotelian idea of the formation of character through upbringing; these ancient ideas can be made contemporary if one understands them in a naturalized way. She then explores the implications that arise from the naturalization of the classical view, weaving into her theory ideas of Jacques Derrida and J. L. Austin. The book also discusses two modes of resistance to an existing ethical culture – one committed to the critical employment of shared norms of rationality, the other aspiring to a more radical attitude, grounded in hostility to the ‘universal.’ Lovibond tries to determine what may be correct in this second, admittedly paradoxical, tendency.

This is a timely and valuable effort to connect the most advanced forms of thinking in the analytic tradition and in the Continental tradition, and to extend our understanding of the intimacies and resistances between these two prominent strands of contemporary philosophy.

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