On What Matters (2 Volume Set)
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On What Matters is a major work in moral philosophy. It is the long-awaited follow-up to Derek Parfit's 1984 book Reasons and Persons, one of the landmarks of twentieth-century philosophy. In this first volume Parfit presents a powerful new treatment of reasons and rationality, and a critical examination of three systematic moral theories -- Kant's ethics, contractualism, and consequentialism -- leading to his own ground-breaking synthetic conclusion. Along the way he discusses a wide range of moral issues, such as the significance of consent, treating people as a means rather than an end, and free will and responsibility. On What Matters is already the most-discussed work in moral philosophy: its publication is likely to establish it as a modern classic which everyone working on moral philosophy will have to read, and which many others will turn to for stimulation and illumination.
sake of one’s own ends. We will later consider whether and how lying (and truth-telling) might be affected by obligatory ends: that is, whether and how the kind of end in question 64 Allen Wood gives good reasons for thinking we have grossly misread Kant’s ‘Supposed Right to Lie’ (in ch. 14 of his Kantian Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2008)). Here I start out with the old assumptions, though my conclusion ﬁts better with Wood’s, and indeed, with other of Kant’s discussions about lying. For
the second type would involve two principles, P, which is optimiﬁc and imposes a high cost on people in the position of Blue, and Q which does not impose that high a cost on anyone (there is no one who would lose as much by a shift from universal acceptance of P to universal acceptance of Q as someone in Blue’s position would gain from such a shift). If P is optimiﬁc, and everyone has impartial reasons to prefer its universal acceptance to the universal acceptance of Q, this is most likely
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which this standpoint would be improved, Blackburn would have to claim that, if we had this standpoint, our attitudes would be less likely to be mistaken. This explanation would fail because it would have to use the word ‘mistaken’ in the sense that Blackburn is trying to explain. We might similarly claim that our headaches might be mistaken in the sense that we would not have these headaches if we had some standpoint in which our headaches would not be mistaken. That would not explain a sense in
claim does not, I believe, describe a useful sense of ‘wrong’. When some people follow certain traditional rules, or do what is required by certain religious beliefs, they are acting on incorrect principles, and using unsound moral reasoning. In such cases, when these people do their duty, their acts would be only accidentally in conformity with duty. But we should not claim that these people’s acts are all, in one sense, wrong. When these people act rightly, for the right motive, truly believing