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Essays on Ethics and Method$
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Henry Sidgwick and Marcus G. Singer

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198250234

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198250231.001.0001

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The Relation of Ethics to Sociology

The Relation of Ethics to Sociology

(p.63) 9. The Relation of Ethics to Sociology
Essays on Ethics and Method

Henry Sidgwick

Oxford University Press

Here Sidgwick presents his position on how ethical theory differs from the then new enterprise of sociology. After discussing the contributions made to the latter discipline by Comte and Spencer (and Mill), Sidgwick analyses the claim that sociology absorbs ethical theory, reducing it to a subordinate branch of sociology. He argues that although these disciplines can and should be harmonized, it is not possible to bring together two such different lines of thought. Whereas ethical theory is a normative endeavour, sociology is inherently descriptive.

Keywords:   Auguste Comte, ethical theory, Mill, normative, Sidgwick, sociology, Herbert Spencer

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