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By William K. Frankena

An advent to the normal fabric of ethics.

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Sample text

Is for one's own grea test good . I n short . he is a t c l e ­ o l o gist o f a kind w e h ave a l ready d i sc us sed , not a deontologist a t a l l . J ust now we a rc i n t e res te d only i n t h e theologi a n wh o rl'al ly believes t h a t wha t fi nal ly ma kes a n a c tion r i gh t or wrong is si m p l y i t s be i n g com ma n d ed or y fo rbidden by G od . Egois tic and Dcont ological Th eo ries 29 a d eq u a t e l y w h a t is rig h t or wrong is no t a t h eo l ogic a l co i n c i d es co u rse , h o l d t h a t t h e mora l law \ 'o l u n t a r i s t .

This is w h at is known as casuistry and was common i n the seventeenth century. Today some p h i l osoph ers seek to do something l ike this by d i s c uss i ng the eth i cs of abort i on , c i \'il d isobedience, punishment, viole nce, and wa r. I n doing so, howeve r, they c h a rac teristi cally tend, right l y in my opinion , to s tress genera l princi ples, careful defin ition of te rms, and l ogic al reasoning- . ra t h e r than spec i fi c cases and detailed answers. Th is i s the most philosophe rs as s uch can be expec t e d to do, and it can be \'CI)' hel pful .

To hold anyt h i ng e lse is to fly i n the face of the facts. I t is usu al here to objec t that one cannot l ogically i n fe r a n ethical con ­ cl u sion from a psychologi cal premise i n this way. Th i s objection has some force, as we shall see in Cha pter 6. Bu t the egois t may not be doing this. He may only be contending that, i f h u m a n nature is as he desc ri bes i t, i t i s simply u n real istic a n d even u n reasonable to propose t h a t we ough t basi ca1 l y to do anyt h i ng b u t w h a t is for our o w n grea test good .

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