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The Dialectical Necessity of Morality

An Analysis and Defense of Alan Gewirth’s Argument to the Principle of Generic Consistency

Alan Gewirth’s Reason and Morality, in which he set forth the Principle of Generic Consistency, is a major work of modern ethical theory that, though much debated and highly respected, has yet to gain full acceptance. Deryck Beyleveld contends that this resistance stems from misunderstanding of the method and logical operations of Gewirth’s central argument. In this book Beyleveld seeks to remedy this deficiency. His rigorous reconstruction of Gewirth’s argument gives its various parts their most compelling formulation and clarifies its essential logical structure.

Beyleveld then classifies all the criticisms that Gewirth’s argument has received and measures them against his reconstruction of the argument. The overall result is an immensely rich picture of the argument, in which all of its complex issues and key moves are clearly displayed and its validity can finally be discerned.

The comprehensiveness of Beyleveld’s treatment provides ready access to the entire debate surrounding the foundational argument of Reason and Morality. It will be required reading for all who are interested in Gewirth’s theory and deontological ethics and will be of central importance to moral and legal theorists.

562 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1991

Philosophy: Ethics

Table of Contents

Foreword by Alan Gewirth
Headings and Objections
List of Abbreviations
1. Introduction
Part 1: The Argument
2. The Argument Presented
3. Two Summary Formulations
Part 2: Objections to the Argument
4. Objections to Stage I
5. Objections to Stage II: Fact and Value
6. Objections to Stage II: The Social Context of Rights-Claims 
7. Objections to Stage II: Must Agents Prescribe to Others?
8. Objections to Stage III
9. Miscellaneous Objections
10. Objections to Positive Rights
11. Conclusion
Author Index
Subject Index

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