William James (1842–1910)
The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life
An address to the Yale Philosophical Club, published in the International Journal of Ethics, April 1891.
From the opening:
‘The main purpose of this paper is to show that there is no such thing possible as an ethical philosophy dogmatically made up in advance. We all help to determine the content of ethical philosophy so far as we contribute to the race’s moral life. In other words, there can be no final truth in ethics any more than in physics, until the last man has had his experience and said his say. In the one case as in the other, however, the hypotheses which we now make while waiting, and the acts to which they prompt us, are among the indispensable conditions which determine what that “say” shall be.’
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