Sie sind auf Seite 1von 2

though particular interpretations (such as the view of Rousseau as a

protototalitarian palitical thinker) may give rise to reservations and dis-


agreements--and This is almost inevitable in a book of such dimensions,
however excellent-this work is a major contribution to its subject, and one
which no serious student of she French eighteenth century will be able to
ignore.
RONALD GRIMSLEY

METHOD IN ETHICAL THEORY by Abraham Edel. Routledge and


Kegan Paul. 1963.vi+ 369 pp. 32s.

Professor Edels book is a discussion of five methods which may be employed


in dealing with materials in ethical theory today: comparative, analytic,
desCriptve, causal-explanatory and evaluative. F m the first d o n we gain
some idea of the s t r u m of an ethical theory,in Edels view; he discusses,
in the light of various criticisms which are made of pleasurethmry, four
types of criticism to which an ethical h r y may be subject: logical,
scientilic, historid, and valuational. I do not understand what historical
criticism is, unless it merely is, as it appears to be, enquiry into the historical
context of a theory with a vim to becoming clearer about its m h g . As a
demonstration of the comparative method various dteories of the locus of
prescriptiveness are compared.
The section on the descriptive method gives more information on the
nature of ethical theory. Its role is to extend or reshape the morality in its
.
application, to justify or criticize the morality . . to mediate between the
morality and the growth of human knowledge. The pursuit of maa-ethics,
which would include analysis of the concepts of morals and ethics, is not a
kind of activity necessarily different in method from ethical theorizing. These
considerations are part of a discussion of conduct, morality and ethicai theory
as social phenomena which are all describable. The descriptive method in
general assumes that its task is to describe and analyse some kind of ethical
data. Edel discusses possible kinds of data, such as ethical terms or their
characteristicallyethical uses, or activities such as valuing and appraising.
There is an interesting discussion of analysis in m o d philosophy, and of
the problems of definition of moral terms and of the nature of moral
arguments. Edel shows &at various criteria are possible for the correctness
of an analysis, of which faithfulness to usage is only me; but he does not
convince one that Harts analysis of responsible is really a policy recom-
mendation (p. 150). (Or indeed Hares of good, p. 67.) Edel sees
naturalistic fallacy arguments as seeking to express an individual libertarian
demand, and rhinks the practicality of moral judgments can be secured within
a cognitivist approach. Many differenr kinds of definition are discussed with
a view to their employment in ethics.
In the Causal-Explanatory Method Edel distinguishes between the
content of an idea (its d m t i a l aspect) and its cmrtext (the holding of it,
expressing of it, etc., and dte causes and effects of these). He discusses
11
possible vim of the relationbetween content and context, including notions
about the meaning of abl utterance including its effeot;and examples are given
of possible increase in content resulting from investigation of context.
This process is distinguished from the genetic fallacy which substitutes for
vdcation of a Me$ an account of the causes of ijts being held, though the
study of genetic explanations of the holding of theories may sharpen criteria
of rationality and irrationality. Edel also considers the effect an abundance
of m a t e d goods would have on ethical theorizing, as an illustration of the
relevance of causal-explanatory enquiry to ethics.
Evaluation is seen as a process of unresmcted scope. An ethical theory
can provide a standpoint from which to evaluate a morality, and it can itself
be evaluated. Edel discusses briefly the question of how standards for
evaluation are to be formed, and problems which might arise such as that of
an infinite regress of evaluation The evaluation of ends (in several possible
senses of end) is considered, and also that of ideals.
This is a difficult book to read, partly because of its rathex jargon-ridden
style. One is constantly troubled by a lack of precision in dealing with
relations between concept and fact. For example, in discussing Hartsexample
of volunzary Edel says : Although voluntary action is a concept admittedly
used historically to cover what is not excused as involuntary, it may acquire
Q positive content with a growing psychology. (p. 149). But would this be
the same concept? Surely this question should at least be raised. Again,
there are remarks about introspection which seem naive after Wittgenstein.
More synthesis seems to me desirable; one is left wondering how these
methods would combine in performing the tasks of ethical-theory as Edel
describes them. For all that, I found Method in Ethical Theory a
h u l a t i n g book, full of interesting suggestions to be followed up, and
constantly making the reader reconsider the very nature of moral philosophy.

ELIZABETH TELFER

ETHICS by W. K. Frankem. Prentice-Hall International, Inc. 1963.


xiii+ 10g pp. 16s.

Professor Frankenas book is very good It is short, clearly arranged,


brief but adequate in mmt of its sectiolls, well-indexed and handsomely
produced. He writes that the praper purpose of an introduction l i e this
must be, aoc maely to pass on inf&on, but to stimulate and help the
d e r to do better, clearer, and more philosophical thinking about ethics
thazl he would do otbawrst . His book fulfils these functions admirably well.
Its chief value is the logical clarity of its arrangement of topics, within the
bounds imposed by the purpose and form of the Series of works of which
Frankems is one. The topics are those familiar in the Moore tradition: the
distinctionbetween normative ethics and metaethics, the distinction between
teleological and dumtdogical normative theories, and the distiuction between
cognitivist a d n o n ~ t i v i s tme!&a-e!&icd ones. The reader will find

12