Schopenhauer's Five-Dimensional Normative Ethics

Marshall, Colin and Mehl, Kayla. 2024. “Schopenhauer's Five-Dimensional Normative Ethics.” In The Schopenhauerian Mind, David Bather Woods and Timothy Stoll (eds.). New York: Routledge Press, 213-27.

Most Anglophone commentators ignore Schopenhauer's normative ethics, and those who do consider it often dismiss it as simplistic. In this chapter, we argue that Schopenhauer in fact offers a rich normative ethics. Taking a cue from Scanlon, we offer a reading of Schopenhauer on which actions are subject to five distinct dimensions of ethical assessment. The resulting view is nuanced and, in many respects, attractive. We conclude, however, by arguing that none of the evaluative dimensions equip Schopenhauer to condemn actions that are motivated by misplaced compassion, as when a member of an oppressive class self-sacrifices in order to maintain the status quo.

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