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Richard Brandt (1910-1997)
[Painted from a photo by Robert Kalmbach, from The Research News 31,
nos.1-2, The University of Michigan, 1980]
Brandt is one of the leading utilitarian moral philosophers of the 20th century. His Ethical Theory (1959) was an influencial textbook in the field; He defended a version of rule-utilitarianism (e.g., "Toward a credible form of utilitarianism", 1963); he has also done cultural-anthropological studies (Hopi Ethics, 1954). However, A Theory of the Good and the Right, 1979 is probably the best among his works. In this, he proposed a "refoming definition" of rationality, that one is rational if one's preferences are such that they survive cognitive psycho-therapy in terms of all relevant information and logical criticism. And he argued that the morality such rational persons would accept would be a form of utilitarianism.
He taught for a long time at the University of Michigan, together with Charles Stevenson and William Frankena (1908-1994), and served as a very good Chairman of the philosophy department.
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Last modified April 15, 2003. (c) Soshichi Uchiisuchii@bun.kyoto-u.ac.jp