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Title: “Nothing to invite or to reward a separate examination”: Sidgwick and Whewell
Authors: Cremaschi, Sergio
Keywords: WhewellSidgwick
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Sergio Cremaschi, "“Nothing to invite or to reward a separate examination”: Sidgwick and Whewell", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, X (2008) 2, pp. 137-184.
Series/Report no.: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
X (2008) 2
In this paper I discuss Sidgwick’s reaction to Whewell’s moral philosophy. I show
how, to Sidgwick’s eyes, Whewell’s philosophy looked as an emblem of the set of beliefs,
primarily religious, into which he had been socialised, and that his reaction was
over-determined by both his own ambivalent feelings to his own Anglican upbringing
and his subtle rhetorical strategy practised by presenting new shocking ideas hidden
between an amount of platitudes and playing the neutral observer or the ‘philosopher
of morality’ instead than acting the part of the preacher of a new morality. Then I
discuss Sidgwick’s assessment of Whewell’s doctrine as an idle systematisation of received
opinion and the reasons why in the Methods he feels entitled to dismiss historically
given intuitionism as ‘dogmatic intuitionism’ without detailed criticism and discusses
instead a so-called ‘intuitional method’ as one of the procedures allegedly used
by common sense. Besides, I show how individual instances of detailed criticism to
Whewell’s doctrines are meant to be not ‘real’ criticism of a rival outlook but instead
illustrations of the limits of ‘common-sense morality’. My final claims are: first, Sidgwick
ends with a short-circuit between a inner dialectic of his own argument and discussion
of rival doctrines; second, the weight of Whewell’s legacy in Sidgwick’s ethics
has been heavily underemphasized.
Type: Article
ISSN: 1825-5167
Appears in Collections:Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2008) X/2

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