Hegel's Development: Night Thoughts (Jena 1801-1806) by H. S. Harris

By H. S. Harris

This ebook, which takes account of every thing that survives from the manuscripts Hegel produced in the course of his first educational profession on the collage of Jena, is the 1st complete survey of the improvement of Hegel's mature approach.

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Additional info for Hegel's Development: Night Thoughts (Jena 1801-1806)

Sample text

So it seems reasonable to conclude on the basis of the analogy between human beings and mammals that mammals are capable of feeling certain sorts of pain. True, there are some differences between humans and other mammals. Apart from a few exceptional chimpanzees, other mammals don't have language, for instance. But these are not usually considered relevant differences. Insects, however, are far less like most human beings than are mammals; so any conclusion about insect pain based on an analogy with human pain would be correspondingly weaker than one about mammal pain.

Most of those who bite the bullet fall far short of embracing contradictions, however. For instance, a strict utilitarian, that is, someone who believes that in any situation the morally right thing to do is whatever will bring about the greatest total happiness, will have to face a difficult decision on the morality of punishing innocent people. A consequence of the basic utilitarian principle is that if it could be shown that punishing an innocent person would in some circumstances bring about the most happiness of any possible action (perhaps because a majority of the public believed this person to be guilty and would get pleasure from the knowledge that he was punished), then it would be morally right in those circumstances to punish that innocent person.

It is uninformative and irritating rather than logically invalid. For example, in a law case, if someone is being tried on an accusation of murder, and has pleaded not guilty, it would be begging the question to refer to them as 'the murderer' rather than 'the accused' until their guilt had been established. This is because the point of the law case is to establish whether or not they are guilty and to call them 'the murderer' would be to assume a position on the very point that is at issue. In a different context using the term would not beg any question.

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