Ruling Passions: A Theory of Practical Reasoning

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Clarendon Press, 1998 - Philosophy - 334 pages
Simon Blackburn puts forward a compelling original philosophy of human motivation and morality. He maintains that we cannot get clear about ethics until we get clear about human nature. So these are the sorts of questions he addresses: Why do we behave as we do? Can we improve? Is ourethics at war with our passions, or is it an upshot of those passions? Blackburn seeks the answers in an exploration of guilt, shame, disgust, and other moral emotions; he draws also on game theory and cognitive science in his account of the structures of human motivation.Many philosophers have wanted a naturalistic ethics--a theory that integrates our understanding of human morality with the rest of our understanding of the world we live in. What is special about Blackburn's naturalistic ethics is that it does not debunk the ethical by reducing it to thenon-ethical. At the same time he banishes the spectres of scepticism and relativism that have haunted recent moral philosophy. Ruling Passions sets ethics in the context of human nature: it offers a solution to the puzzle of how ethics can maintain its authority even though it is rooted in thevery emotions and motivations that it exists to control.

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User Review  - HazelD - LibraryThing

This is a masterpiece of philosophy. Blackburn sets out a very impressive theory of ethics and meta-ethics - his 'quasi-realism'. But as well as setting out the theory, he goes on a great survey of ... Read full review

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About the author (1998)

Simon Blackburn was previously the Edna J. Koury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He also holds an adjunct Chair at the Australian National University's Research School of Social Sciences. From 1969 to 1990 he was Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Pembroke College, Oxford, and from 1984 to 1990 he edited the journal Mind. He is the author of the Oxford Dictionary ofPhilosophy.

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