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date: 19 January 2022



  • Simon Blackburn


‘Foundations’ examines the justification for ethics, and its connection with human knowledge and human progress. Are truth and knowledge possible, or does reasoning about what to do eventually hinge on nothing but sheer brute will? There is a differentiation to be made between two types of reason and the concepts of doing good and living well are important here. If people’s capacity for ethical behaviour is not immediately given by their nature as human beings, nor by an inescapable birthright of reason, where does it come from? Thomas Hobbes attempts to answer this question with the notion of the war of all against all. How important is the emergence of norms, particularly cooperation?

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