On What Matters

One of the great temptations to which moral philosophers since Sidgwick have succumbed is the search for a theory of everything – a combinatorial view that synthesizes key insights of rival moral theories and explains why their differences are really not as deep as they seem. Although Sidgwick famously hoped to do this for ethics, in the final pages of the first edition of his Methods of Ethics he worried aloud that he had searched in vain for a “hypothesis logically necessary to avoid a fundamental contradiction in a vast system of Belief: a contradiction so fundamental that if it cannot be overcome the whole system must fall to the ground and skepticism be triumphant over one chief part of our thought” (The Methods of Ethics, First Edition, MacMillan Publishing: London, 1874, p. 472).

Published in: Journal of Moral Philosophy
2013 Volume 10, Issue 3 Pages 355–370