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Ethics as Scales of Forms

Author(s): R.T. Allen

Book Description

This book is an important contribution to moral philosophy, and also to moral theology. It overcomes the dichotomising fragmentation of much contemporary moral philosophy which tends to take one aspect or component of moral activity, such as the consequences of actions, rules or intentions, and to make it the only one. The book employs an adaptation of Collingwood’s scheme of ‘scales of forms’ to provide a synthesis which does justice to all aspects and components by placing each aspect, or component, on a scale in which each lower one presupposes the next higher and each higher one needs to be appropriately enacted and expressed in the next lower one. The lowest of all is that of the consequences of single actions and the highest, in which all the others are fulfilled, is that of the unique person as essentially an ens amans, a loving being.

That scale is itself insufficient, for it in turn presupposes a scale of values and ends to be realised and pursued, and thus overcomes another false dichotomy, that of deontological (duty) versus axiological (value) ethics, for duties without values and ends are pointless and arbitrary, and values and ends without duties are of no moral significance. The order of types of love, from mere liking and enjoyment to love of the unique person, provides an appropriate scale, integrated with one of various types of fulfilment, pleasure-happiness-virtue, whose summit, love itself, is also that of the previous scale. Thus insofar as we become what we ought to be, then, ceteris paribus, we shall also find our true fulfilment.

At each point, relevant texts from Greek to contemporary European philosophy, along with mentions of some other world- and life-views, are cited to illustrate and give substance to the argument.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-5682-9
ISBN-10: 1-4438-5682-7
Date of Publication: 01/05/2014
Pages / Size: 210 / A5
Price: £44.99


Dr R. T. Allen read Philosophy at Nottingham, and then obtained an external BD and PhD, with a thesis on “Michael Polanyi and Christian Theism”, at King’s College, University of London. He has taught Philosophy of Education at colleges in England, one in Nigeria, and The University of the West Indies, Trinidad. His publications include The Education of Autonomous Man (1992), Transcendence and Immanence in the Philosophy of Michael Polanyi and Christian Theism (1992), The Structure of Value (1993), Beyond Liberalism: A Study of the Political thought of F. A. Hayek and Michael Polanyi (1998), and The Necessity of God (2008). He has edited or co-edited four other books on philosophy, contributed articles to five others, and forty to journals published in Britain, continental Europe, North America, Australia and China. Now retired, married and with two grown-up children, he lives in Loughborough and is active in the British Personalist Forum and its journal Appraisal.