Institute of Philosophy
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

  Olga V. Artemieva. Intellectualism and Ethics
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Olga V. Artemieva. Intellectualism and Ethics

Olga V. Artemieva

Intellectualism and Ethics
Research project sponsored by the Russian Foundation for Humanities, 2002–2003.



The goal of the project is to reconstruct, expose and examine the conception of ethical intellectualism. It is treated as a kind of moral epistemology, determined by a special view on morality. The essence of ethical intellectualism can be formulated in the following statements: a) morality is based on reason; b) moral knowledge is constituted by notions and not by sentiments; c) all people have an immediate awareness of moral notions. The work is based on the analysis of Richard Price's and Henry Sidgwick's moral philosophy. Price's ethical views are set down in A Review of the Principal Questions in Morals (1758). Sidgwick developed his ethics in Methods of Ethics (1874).

The significance of the conception can be viewed from two perspectives. First is of a historical kind. Our history of moral philosophy allows only a limited space to the ethical intellectualism. Even the names of moral philosophers that had developed the conception are unknown in our ethics. The examination of ethical intellectualism as rather influential conception in the history of Modern ethics corrects our idea of English ethics as chiefly empirical. The second perspective is theoretical one. The ethical intellectualism is one of the first attempts in the history of ethics (side by side with sentimentalism) to give a meaning to morality in its principal features such as absoluteness, autonomy, objectivity and universality. The questions of its main concern are nature of morality, character of moral knowledge and peculiarity of the process of moral knowledge. These questions still exercise the minds of moral philosophers. So the examination of ethical intellectualism is meaningful in terms of contemporary theoretical debates in ethics concerning the matter of justification of morality and epistemological analysis of it (such as the questions of moral rationality, types of rationality, nature of moral knowledge, peculiarity of value knowledge, the meaning of intuition in moral knowledge, etc.)