The Right and the Good, a classic of twentieth-century philosophy by the great scholar Sir David Ross, is now presented in a new edition. Ross's book, originally published in 1930, is the pinnacle of ethical intuitionism, which was the dominant moral theory in British philosophy for much of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The central concern of the book is with rightness and goodness, and their relation. Ross argues against notable rival ethical theories. The right act, he held, cannot be derived from the moral value of the motive from which it is done. Furthermore, rightness is not wholly determined by the value of the consequences of one's action, whether this value is some benefit for the agent, or some agent-neutral good. Rather, the right act is determined by a plurality of self-evident prima facie duties. Ross portrayed rightness and goodness as simple non-natural properties. Philip Stratton-Lake, a leading expert on Ross, provides a substantial new Introduction, in which he discusses the central themes of The Right and the Good and clears up some common misunderstandings.
A new bibliography and index are also included, along with editorial notes which aim to clarify certain points and indicate where Ross later changed his mind on particular issues. Intuitionism is now enjoying a considerable revival, and this new edition provides the context for a proper understanding of Ross's great work.
Sir David Ross (1877-1971) was Provost of Oriel College, Oxford, Honorary Fellow of Merton College, and Fellow of the British Academy.
Philip Stratton-Lake is Lecturer in Philosophy at Reading University.