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By Harry Gensler

Ethics: modern Readings is designed to guide any pupil into the topic, and does so via rigorously chosen vintage and modern articles. The booklet contains articles through the prime figures within the box.

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38 SWINDAL AND SPURGIN The categorical imperative results in a very strict set of ethical rules. For example, Kant derives exceptionless prohibitions against lying and suicide. These acts are wrong regardless of the circumstances and the consequences they produce. Exceptionless rules such as these give rise to staunch criticism of Kant’s ethics. Many suggest that it is a rule-bound theory that places a higher value on rules than persons. They claim that the idea that lying is always wrong regardless of its consequences is surely misguided.

Reason merely collects the data on which the sentiments operate. Reason is relegated to this secondary role because it lacks the capacity to move us to act. Only sentiments have this THE HISTORY OF ETHICS 35 capacity. Since ethical judgments have the capacity to move us to act, they must be based on sentiments instead of reason. Although sentiments are the source of moral judgments, sympathy drives the sentiments. We have a natural sympathy for other humans. The closer another person is, the stronger one’s sympathy for that person.

To love neighbors requires that we not only refrain from injuring them, but also promote their good when we can. In the end, God will judge us on the basis of our response to this double love command, though he will also do so with mercy. Despite his focus on the centrality of the love of God, Augustine also took account of factors within an agent that influence whether its action 30 SWINDAL AND SPURGIN is good or bad. In his Confessions, he makes it clear that the quality of one’s intention and resolve has ethical import.

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