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Goodness and Advice : The University Center for Human Values Series - Judith Jarvis Thomson

Goodness and Advice

The University Center for Human Values Series

By: Judith Jarvis Thomson, Amy Gutmann (Editor), Philip Fisher (Commentaries by), Martha C. Nussbaum (Commentaries by), J. B. Schneewind (Commentaries by)

Paperback Published: 26th January 2003
ISBN: 9780691114736
Number Of Pages: 208

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How should we live? What do we owe to other people? In "Goodness and Advice," the eminent philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson explores how we should go about answering such fundamental questions. In doing so, she makes major advances in moral philosophy, pointing to some deep problems for influential moral theories and describing the structure of a new and much more promising theory.

Thomson begins by lamenting the prevalence of the idea that there is an unbridgeable gap between fact and value--that to say something is good, for example, is not to state a fact, but to do something more like expressing an attitude or feeling. She sets out to challenge this view, first by assessing the apparently powerful claims of Consequentialism. Thomson makes the striking argument that this familiar theory must ultimately fail because its basic requirement--that people should act to bring about the "most good"--is meaningless. It rests on an incoherent conception of goodness, and supplies, not mistaken advice, but no advice at all.

Thomson then outlines the theory that she thinks we should opt for instead. This theory says that no acts are, simply, good: an act can at most be good in one or another way--as, for example, good for Smith or for Jones. What we ought to do is, most importantly, to avoid injustice; and whether an act is unjust is a function both of the rights of those affected, including the agent, and of how good or bad the act is for them. The book, which originated in the Tanner lectures that Thomson delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values in 1999, includes two chapters by Thomson ("Goodness" and "Advice"), provocative comments by four prominent scholars--Martha Nussbaum, Jerome Schneewind, Philip Fisher, and Barbara Herrnstein Smith--and replies by Thomson to those comments.

"A highly civilized, lively and provocative exchange between interesting people of diverse backgrounds and positions... A very fine example of a first-rate mind taking great pains to deal carefully, clearly and methodically with perennial problems of the utmost significance."--Saul Smilansky, Times Literary Supplement "As always, Thomson's writing is clear, crisp, and direct."--Choice

Introductionp. vii
Goodnessp. 3
Advicep. 43
Comments
Reply to Commentatorsp. 147
Contributorsp. 181
Indexp. 183
Table of Contents provided by Rittenhouse. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691114736
ISBN-10: 0691114730
Series: The University Center for Human Values Series
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 26th January 2003
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.83 x 16.46  x 1.52
Weight (kg): 0.33

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