Logic Language

An examination of the place of reason in ethics by Stephen Edelston Toulmin

By Stephen Edelston Toulmin

The important challenge of ethics, in accordance with Stephen Toulmin, is that of discovering how to distinguish solid ethical arguments from vulnerable ones, strong purposes from negative ones, and finding out no matter if there comes some degree during ethical argument whilst the giving of purposes turns into superfluous. The inquiry he undertakes in An exam of where of cause in Ethics facilities at the query of what makes a specific set of evidence that endure on an ethical selection a "good cause" for performing in a selected manner. the writer contends that he has little interest in a round argument to the impression "good cause" is person who helps the type of act he might regard as a "good act"; his job is to explain the character of ethical reasoning and the type of common sense that is going into it.

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The name `gerundives' is appropriate because they can all be analysed as worthy of something-or-other'; in this resembling 72 REASON IN ETHICS the grammatical class of gerundives', which appears in one's Latin primer—consisting of such words as amandus, which means ' worthy of love' (or `meet-to-be-loved'), and laudandus, which means worthy of praise'. ' What we have to discover is why some of the arguments which fit our dialectical pattern deserve the title of `reasoning' and some do not. ' Put in this way, the present problem clearly resembles our central problem.

If we can come to understand reasoning in general, we may be better prepared to solve the special problems of ethical reasoning. What is 'reasoning' ? Let us take a look at a number of typical cases of reasoning. The circumstances in which we talk of 'reasoning', and of 'reasons' being offered in support of conclusions, are so many and so diverse that it is hard to see what is common to them, and the choice is embarrassing. I shall therefore begin by giving four examples chosen from very different 1 Tolstoy, War and Peace, bk.

If the sergeant-major says tome, 'Stand to attention! ', I do not stop to argue, but stand to attention at once. And if I ask him for a good reason for accepting what he says as true', he will put me on a charge, or send me to the Medical Officer for a psychological inspection. In such a case, no questions of truth, falsity or verification arise; and they do not arise, not just because of the threat of the glasshouse', but because they have no meaning in this context. Now consider a very similar ethical sentence.

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