Hare's Prescriptivism - Madell

Hare's Prescriptivism - Madell - Hare's Prescriptivism...

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Hare's Prescriptivism Author(s): Geoffrey Madell Source: Analysis, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Dec., 1965), pp. 37-41 Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of The Analysis Committee Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3326522 . Accessed: 17/08/2011 18:36 . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. Oxford University Press and The Analysis Committee are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Analysis. http://www.jstor.org
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HARE'S PRESCRIPTIVISM By GEOFFREY MADELL I SHALL ARGUE in this paper that the model of ethical thinking developed in R. M. Hare's book Freedom and Reason is totally unwork- able. I shall try to show that in the central chapters of the book Hare embraces two quite incompatible positions, which I shall call the Prescriptive Argument and the Utilitarian Argument, and that neither of these arguments is at all acceptable in itself. In Chapter Six ('A Moral Argument') Hare outlines his basic position with reference to a situation in which the interests of two people only are involved. In Chapter Seven ('Utilitarianism') the argument, according to Hare, is generalised to cover cases in which the interests of more than two parties are involved. The argument of Chapter Six concerns a creditor, A, who will have to put his debtor, B, into prison if he is to make him pay. The creditor can consider such an action morally right only if he can accept that every debtor who does not pay his debts should be imprisoned. But this means that he must accept that he himself ought to be put into prison should he be such a debtor; and this, for Hare, means that the creditor must be able to accept the imperative, 'Let me be put into prison should I be such a debtor'. But this he cannot do, since he has a strong inclination not to go to prison. He can only assent to this prescription if he is what Hare calls a fanatic, one whose adherence to ideals is so strong that it overrides personal inclination. The argument of Chapter Seven concerns a judge to whose lot it falls to sentence a criminal to prison. Hare fully realises that there is an obvious objection to be raised against the judge's action, for the criminal might say, 'You wouldn't like to be sent to prison, if you were me; so how can you universalise your prescription to send me to prison ? But if you can't, then how can you maintain that you ought to send me to prison?' (pp. 115-6). Hare
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Hare's Prescriptivism - Madell - Hare's Prescriptivism...

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