545R. H. B. W. Joseph to Harrod, 21 April 1936 [a]

Follows on from 544 R, replies to a letter not found of 20 April. Joseph thinks that with his reference to "obligations" Harrod reduces "ethics to pointing out that some acts are maxpro & some are not, & not at first sight appearing to be really are so". Moreover, by defining an obligation act as "an act such that when it is promoted on a particular occasion, it is not necessarily maxpro, but when it is performed on a number of similar occasions it is decidedly maxpro, and which is in fact performed on a sufficient number of those sort of occasions (by a group such as a tribe, nation or members of a religion) for it to be maxpro", Harrod is confusing particular and Universal. As to the importance of ends, Harrod seems to think that it depends on the intensity of the desire for them, while Joseph does not agree; he also thinks that "to call everything desired for its own sake an end leads to infinite confusion. In particular it encourages that most dangerous confusion of constituent with means." Joseph communicates that he has entirely rewritten his paper. Continues at 546 R.

  1. a. From 33, Northmoor Road, Oxford # , ALS, 11 pages on six leaves, in HPBL Add. 72730/48-53.


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