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Dumb Beasts and Dead PhilosophersHumanity and the Humane in Ancient Philosophy and Literature$
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Catherine Osborne

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199282067

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199282067.001.0001

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On Self‐Defence and Utilitarian Calculations: Democritus of Abdera and Hermarchus of Mytilene

On Self‐Defence and Utilitarian Calculations: Democritus of Abdera and Hermarchus of Mytilene

Chapter:
(p.197) 8 On Self‐Defence and Utilitarian Calculations: Democritus of Abdera and Hermarchus of Mytilene
Source:
Dumb Beasts and Dead Philosophers
Author(s):

Catherine Osborne (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199282067.003.0008

This chapter looks at the idea that some beasts threaten human well being, while others are conducive towards it. The views of Hermarchus on the need to wage war on the undesirable creatures, and to protect those that are useful are examined, along with his and other ancient attempts to analyse morality as based on rules drawn up on anthropocentric utilitarian lines. This utilitarian account of morality is compared with that of Socrates to indicate why Socrates' claim that it is beneficial to the agent to act morally well is not a utilitarian account, because for Socrates the benefit is explained by the moral goodness, whereas for the Utilitarian the moral goodness is explained by the benefit.

Keywords:   Utilitarianism, Hermarchus, Democritus, Socrates, morality, killing, speciesism, anthropocentrism

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