The Theory of Good and Evil
|Publisher||1907 (The Clarendon Press)|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
|Pages||312 (vol. 1, Elibron edition)
464 (vol. 2, Elibron edition)
|ISBN||978-1112155512 (vol. 1)
978-1112155505 (vol. 2)
The Theory of Good and Evil is a 1907 book about ethics by the English philosopher Hastings Rashdall, in which Rashdall expounds a theory he calls "ideal utilitarianism". It has been seen as Rashdall's most important philosophical work.
Rashdall argues that actions are right or wrong according to whether they produce well-being, which he defines in terms of both pleasure and a virtuous disposition. Rashdall refers to his theory as "ideal utilitarianism". He holds that the concepts of good and value are logically prior to that of right, but gives right a more than instrumental significance. While for Rashdall, everyone's good should count for as much as the like good of everyone else, the capacity for a higher life may be grounds for treating men unequally. Rashdall includes a discussion of the ethical theory of F. H. Bradley. Rashdall's idea of good owes more to the English philosopher Thomas Hill Green than to the hedonistic utilitarians. The Theory of Good and Evil is dedicated to the memory of Rashdall's teachers, Green and Henry Sidgwick, who influenced his conclusions.
The Theory of Good and Evil has been seen as Rashdall's most important philosophical work. Richard Wollheim described it as "a compendious work marred by priggishness". In A Theory of Justice (1971), John Rawls compared Rashdall's ethical views to those of G. E. Moore, writing that the position that the capacity for a higher life may be grounds for treating men unequally is implicit in Moore's Principia Ethica (1903).
- Allard, James W. (1999). Audi, Robert, ed. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-63722-8.
- Downie, R. S. (2005). Honderich, Ted, ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-926479-1.
- Rawls, John (1999). A Theory of Justice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00078-1.
- Wollheim, Richard (1969). F. H. Bradley. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
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