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Derek Parfit

The two books with the first volume's cover showing

I'm told that Derek Parfit is an influential and important contemporary philosopher with an interest in both ethics and meta-ethics.

He was born in 1942 and is still very much with us, so he qualifies as within the range of people who might satisfy my four-part test, announced here last month.

His latest work, ON WHAT MATTERS, was published in this millennium (2011), though apparently drafts of key parts had circulated for years before that.

So far as I can tell from quick googling and other superficial stuff, Parfit is a cognitivist, and is at least in part a teleologist, maybe even an intuitionist. The plank he seems most likely to reject of my four is pluralism. He seems to believe that all views worthy of consideration in ethical philosophy are reconciliable, as in his view are deontology, teleology, contractarianism. Thus, he doesn't have the  sense of inevitable loss, something-valuable-must-be-lost, I find and value in James' writings and Berlin's. THAT is critical to pluralism as I understand it.

Here's the brief wikipedia account of the opus:

You can get the flavor of it online through the magic of Google Books:


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