Reasons and the Good

Reasons and the Good - Roger Crisp Crisp argues that reasons for doing things are ultimately based on self interest and self well-being. he then goes on to argue that the well-being of others can also provide us with reasons to act. In the final chapter he discusses the issue of equality and comes to the conclusion that if well-being falls below a certain 'threshold' there is reason to help those people out.

I liked the idea of stripping out the 'moral' 'good' 'bad' terminology and the process of arriving at 'well being' as the bedrock of reasoning and can see much sense in it. Well-being of others is also an interesting subject and the arguments make sense (though I confess that I didn't get all the nuances).

For me these ideas chime quite well with the evolutionists view of self and others - e.g. we look after ourselves, those close to us and sometimes those further afield because it makes biological sense for us to do so.

The most interesting chapter was however the one about equality. The idea of enumerating and calculating 'well-being' seemed like an excellent one to me, however it made no numerical sense whatsoever and there is a risk, if policy-makers were to take such ideas to heart, (and as indeed we see in day-to-day life in the UK) of individuals putting themselves in the position though inaction or deliberately 'using the system' to unfairly improve their well-being at the cost of the well-being of others who fairly deserve their lot. Maybe I am interpreting it too harshly!

The last sentence of the book "How to decide on the balance of reasons is a matter for reflective judgement" sounds like a cop-out to me - After 161 pages of quite dense argument I was expecting something a bit more profound!