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A new translation is published, with a facing English text, edited by Sergio Cremaschi and Massimo Reichlin, of a relevant work from the 20th century: the “Principia Ethica” by George Edward Moore (1873-1958). The book saw the light in Cambridge in 1903 and has been continuously translated and reprinted (the latter Italian also contains the preface to the second edition of 1922).
Gianni Vattimo, Nicola Abbagnano
A translation that adds to that of Gianni Vattimo, with the introduction by Nicola Abbagnano, which was also published by Bompiani in 1964 (long out of print) and which then made a reference text known. The importance of the work was recalled in the cover panel, highlighting terms already present in the preface: “These ‘prolegomena to any future ethics that presents itself as a science’ constitute an indispensable key to understanding the development of analytical philosophy and current investigations on the ‘language of morality’”.
The new translation was created with particular attention to terminological uses; moreover, they have undergone, sixty years later, understandable changes. The editors themselves, Cremaschi and Reichlin, recall in the “Editorial note” that “fallacy” has been rendered as “fallacy”: the term “sophism” which designates an apparently valid but in reality deceptive argument has been avoided.
The ethical use of reason
Moore’s work lays out the fundamental principles of the ethical use of reason. Only in a second phase does he develop a normative theory of action. The first chapter, for example, deals with the question of the meaning of the expression “good”, arriving at the conclusion that “good” and “good” are indefinable terms. Moore then continues – chapter 2 – calling the theories that identify the “good” predicate with a specific property or natural entity naturalistic and maintains that they incur the “naturalistic fallacy”, that is, they make a deduction from judgments only on the basis of the description of facts. It is a work that deserves, even after emotionalism (for which moral judgments have no cognitive value), the right attention and which helps to orient oneself among the different ethics of our times.
George Edward Moore, “Principia Ethica” Bompiani, pp. 730, 60 euros