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)
978-1112155505 (vol. 2)
The Theory of Good and Evil is a 1907 book by the English philosopher Hastings Rashdall.
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. His 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.
Philosopher John Rawls writes in his A Theory of Justice (1971) that a position similar to Rashdall's view that the capacity for a higher life may be grounds for treating men unequally is implicit in G. E. 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.
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