Contemporary American Philosophy Frank Thilly THE contemporary philosophies of the United States are largely characterized by their opposition to traditional idealism and their interest in the problem of knowledge, which is in many cases interpreted as a problem of action. The new movements derive their inspiration from the methods and results of natural science and seek, not always successfully, to avoid the metaphysical presuppositions of the older schools. The time-honored question of consciousness becomes the subject of their story, in the course of which we find the mind progressively stripped of its former qualities and functions until little is left of it but the name. Its requiem is sung by behaviorism and its emaciated form finally given over to materialism, the laughing heir, to be burned. An old trait of philosophy, however, remains: the new schools meet with vigorous criticism from each other as well as from the camp of speculative idealism against which they offer a united front.
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In Stock Overview Dr. In his first chapter, Professor Thilly treats of the nature and methods of ethics. He discusses here, first, the function of science,-in a manner which in our opinion does not altogether do justice to the subject, even within the limited space devoted to it. He then considers in a general way the data of the various sciences, afterwards taking up the data of the science of ethics in particular, and defining ethics roughly as "the science of right and wrong, the science of duty, the science of moral principles, the science of moral judgment and conduct.
It analyses, classifies, describes, and explains moral phenomena, on their subjective as well as on their objective side. It tells us what these phenomena are, separates them into their constituent elements, and refers them to their antecedents or conditions; it discovers the principles upon which they are based, the laws which govern them; it explains their origin and traces their development.
In short, it reflects upon them, thinks them over, attempts to answer all possible questions which may be asked with reference to them. It does with its facts what every science does with its subject-matter: it strives to know everything that can be known about them, to correlate them, to unify them, to insert them into a system.
Thilly notes the interrelation of all sciences, and especially that of ethics and psychology. What, it asks, is the nature of the acts which are judged moral; do they possess some mark or characteristic that makes them moral or leads men to call them so? Why do men judge as they do; what is the ground of moral distinctions? Why is wrong wrong, and right right?
Explain the virtues and duties, e. Is there a standard or criterion or ideal by which conduct is judged, and what is it? Can we justify this standard or ideal, or is it something that cannot or need not be justified? Given a certain ideal or standard, what conduct is moral, what immoral? Does humanity remain true to the ideal? What is the highest good for man, the end of life?
Can we specify it scientifically, or is it impossible to do so?
Introduction to Ethics
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A History of Philosophy