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The Rediscovery of the Highest Good

Stuart C. Hackett (Wipf & Stock Publishers: Mar 2009), 414 pages.

Stuart Hackett’s The Rediscovery of the Highest Good, originally handwritten in spiral notebooks, is a masterwork of philosophical ethics that guides readers through 2300 years of discourse on the issue of morality, from Plato through Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. "It is the destiny of every human person to decide," Hackett opens. "Whether our choices are genuinely free or inevitably determined, invariably trivial or occasionally momentous, carelessly settled or reflectively reasoned, at least in one sense all this makes no difference: for the one thing about which persons have no choice is that we unavoidably and necessarily must choose, and cannot therefore escape our responsibility to do so." ~ Product Description

Table of Contents

  • I Introduction: The Concept of Moral Philosophy: Its Meaning and Methodology 1
    • The Nature and Importance of Moral Inquiry 1
    • The General Philosophical Context of Ethics 5
    • The Principal Aspects of Philosophical Ethics 8
  • Part I Meta-Ethics: The Meaning, Logical Status, and Context of Moral Discourse
  • II General Meta-Ethical Theories: Cognitivism vs. Non-Cognitivism 17
    • The Principal Task of Meta-Ethical Analysis 17
    • A Classification of the Principal Meta-Ethical Theories 21
  • III Meta-Ethical Cognitivism 25
    • Intutionism: A Distinctionist Stance 42
  • IV Meta-Ethical Non-Cognitivism 63
    • Non-Cognitivism as a General Meta-Ethical Position 63
    • David Hume: Descriptive Relativism 65
    • A.J. Ayer and C.L. Stevenson: Meta-Ethical Emotivism or Attitudinalism 73
    • Qualified Objectivist Non-Cognitivism: The ‘Good Reasons’ Approach and the Ideal Moral Observer 81
    • Conclusion Concerning General Meta-Ethical Theories 103
  • V Determinism, Personal Freedom, and Moral Responsibility: A Meta-Ethical Postscript 107
    • Statement of the Problems 108
    • A Proposed Resolution of the Problems Concerning Determinism, Personal Freedom, and Moral Responsibility 123
    • Arguments in Support of the Agent Causality View of Personal Freedom 128
    • Criticisms of the Agent Causality View of Personal Freedom (and Response to Those Criticisms) 145
    • General Meta-Ethical Conclusions 164
  • Part II Normative (Substantive) Ethics: Alternative Conceptions of the Ultimate Moral Ideal
  • VI The Principal Classifications of Normative Ethical Theories 169
    • The Central Concerns of Normative Ethics 169
    • A Proposed Scheme of Classification for Normative Ethical Theories 174
  • VII NormativeEthical Naturalism 177
    • Hedonistic Naturalism 178
    • Humanistic Naturalism 202
    • Realistic Humanism: Aristotle 205
    • Pragmatic Humanism: John Dewey 220
    • Existential Humanism: Jean-Paul Sartre 236
    • Evolutionary Humanism: Friedrich Nietzsche 248
    • Religious Naturalism: Baruch (Benedict) Spinoza 262
  • VIII Normative Ethical Idealism 279
    • The Metaphysical Orientation in Ethical Idealism: Plato’s Essentialism 281
    • Absolute Idealism: G.W.F. Hegel and F.H. Bradley 297
    • The Postulational Orientation in Ethical Idealism: Immanuel Kant 314
  • IX Normative Ethical Theism 339
    • The General Theistic Perspective in Ethics 339
    • Augustine on Goodness, Freedom, and Evil 342
    • Aquinas on Nature, Grace, and Moral Law 357
    • Kierkegaard on Subjectivity and Purity of Heart 370
  • X In Retrospective Reflection: An Epilogue 383
    • Index 387