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A Study in Moral Problems B.M. Laing

A Study in Moral Problems

B.M. Laing

Published March 1st 2007
ISBN : 9781406772531
Paperback
280 pages
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 About the Book 

A STUDY IN MORAL PROBLEMS A STUDY IN MORAL PROBLEMS BY B. M. LAING, M. C., M. A. Lecturer in Philosophy, The University, Sheffield LONDON GEORGE ALLEN UNWIN LTD. RUSKIN HOUSE, 40 MUSEUM STREET, W. C. I NEW YORK THE MACMILLAN COMPANY PREFACEMoreA STUDY IN MORAL PROBLEMS A STUDY IN MORAL PROBLEMS BY B. M. LAING, M. C., M. A. Lecturer in Philosophy, The University, Sheffield LONDON GEORGE ALLEN UNWIN LTD. RUSKIN HOUSE, 40 MUSEUM STREET, W. C. I NEW YORK THE MACMILLAN COMPANY PREFACE THROUGHOUT the following chapters there runs one central problem and upon it all the arguments converge. It is the problem of the relation between human action and natural law. It is an old one and one that has been dealt with by eminent thinkers Kant and Lotze are but two. On account of the development of science with its insistence upon the reign of universal law, it has become in modern times a very important problem because of its bearing upon moral and social effort. The freedom that is somehow implied in morality has to be reconciled with the rigidity and uniformity that characterize natural law. That problem must be and is here regarded as a fundamental one, because it lies at the basis of all the more specific moral problems like evil, social conflicts, conflicts of values, the instability and uncertainty of moral progress and moral achievement and because its solution will point a way to a solution of these difficulties. A discussion of the general problem of the relation between freedom and mechanism or natural law tends accordingly to take the character of studies in morality, though at the same time it becomes quite clear that metaphysical questions arise and cannot be avoided, while yet within the present limits they cannot be very adequately discussed. There arise questions about the structure of the universe and the nature of reality, as well as about the meaning of natural causality and natural conditions. Such questions demand fulldiscussion but at the moment that must te left aside, and only a reference can be made to certain points in these questions that are relevant to ethical studies, for they create difficulties as regards method. It has, for instance, been very generally held that the possibility of 6 A STUDY IN MORAL PROBLEMS beginning with cause and of working up to purpose is ex tremely doubtful. The disparateness of natural cause and moral purpose, of natural law and moral law, renders such a procedure impossible. There is an insuperable difficulty in effecting a transition from laws which describe hoHv things and people do act to laws which prescribe how people should act. The one type of law cannot be derived from the other. Ethics, in consequence, can never be purely inductive and there remains a fundamental dis tinction between ethics and the inductive sciences. This view, however, may be questioned and, by questioning it, it becomes possible to give a very intelligible account of human action and to obtain a clear explanation of many moral difficulties. The common assumption has been that it is the business of ethics to set up moral standards or norms and it is this assumption that has created difficulties for ethical method. It has led to the demand that moral problems must be solved in moral terms or in terms of moral fact and it has hampered ethical enquiry and hindered the solution of moral difficulties by prejudging how and where a solution is to be found instead of allowing the enquirer to seek a solution amongst a material that is likely to be most fruitful. The assumption may be questioned, and in the interests of moral theory must be so. The element of control or regulative power isalready present in human action and moral theory has not to create it. What ethics has to do is to interpret that element of control and to express its nature in formulae. Its task, accordingly, does not differ from the task of any positive science it would do so only if it had to create a standard or control, or to impose a formula upon human action...