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Reason and Morality

"Most modern philosophers attempt to solve the problem of morality from within the epistemological assumptions that define the dominant cultural perspective of our age. Alan Gewirth’s Reason and Morality is a major work in this ongoing enterprise. Gewirth develops, with patience and skill, what he calls a ’modified naturalism’ in which morality is derived by logic alone from the concept of action. . . . I think that the publication of Reason and Morality is a major event in the history of moral philosophy. It develops with great power a new and exciting position in ethical naturalism. No one, regardless of philosophical stance, can read this work without an enlargement of mind. It illuminates morality and agency for all."—E. M. Adams, The Review of Metaphysics

"This is a fascinating study of an apparently intractable problem. Gewirth has provided plenty of material for further discussion, and his theory deserves serious consideration. He is always aware of possible rejoinders and argues in a rigorous manner, showing a firm grasp of the current state of moral and political philosophy."—Mind

401 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1978

Philosophy: Ethics

Table of Contents

1. The Problem of Justification
Central Questions of Moral Philosophy
Is It Needless to Justify a Supreme Moral Principle?
Is It Impossible to Justify a Supreme Moral Principle?
Can a Supreme Moral Principle Be Justified Inductively?
Reason and the Generic Features of Action
The Dialectically Necessary Method
2. The Normative Structure of Action
Purposiveness and Goods
Generic Rights and Right-Claims
The Criterion of Relevant Similarities
3. The Principle of Generic Consistency
The Derivation of the Principle
The Formal Necessity of the Principle
The Material Necessity of the Principle
Analytic Truth and Morality
Motivation and Rationality
4. Direct Applications of the Principle
Kinds of Applications and Principles
Equality of Generic Rights
Common Good and Duties regarding Basic Goods
The Duty to Rescue
Duties regarding Nonsubtractive Goods
Duties regarding Additive Goods
Duties regarding Freedom
5. Indirect Applications of the Principle
Social Rules and Institutions
Optional-Procedural Justification of Social Rules: Voluntary Associations
Static-Instrumental Justification of Social Rules: The Minimal State
Necessary-Procedural Justification of Social Rules: The Method of Consent
Dynamic-Instrumental Justification of Social Rules: The Supportive State
The Completeness of the Principle
Conflicts of Duties
Some Concluding Reflections

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