Why Should One Bother about Other People?

  • John Wilson


More philosophical ink has perhaps been expended on this question (which I put in a deliberately vague form with the phrase ‘bother about’) than on any other question in morality. For philosophers who assume (1) that morality is primarily concerned with action (rather than with feeling and being), and (2) that only strictly deductive argument is either relevant or decisive in morality, the question that Plato raises in the Republic — roughly, ‘Is justice profitable?’ or ‘Should one be the sort of person who gives weight to other people’s interests?’ — will characteristically be construed in a certain light. It will be construed as something like ‘Are there logical constraints which compel any man to behave or act justly?’ Attention will then be focused upon particular cases in which, at particular times, some person faces a choice between his own interests and those of other people: especially upon the legitimacy or illegitimacy of his using certain concepts or words (notoriously, ‘ought’) and upon whether or in what sense we can say that he has good reason for his choice to do something.


Empirical Fact Brick Wall Public Form Public Criterion Deductive Argument 
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Copyright information

© John Wilson 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Educational Studies and Mansfield CollegeUniversity of OxfordUK

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