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ELEMENTS OF ETHICS
NOAH K. DAVIS, A.M., PH.D., LL.D.
61 899 FEB 18 1902
THIS treatise is intended for readers who feel the need of a simple, direct and comprehensive theory of morals. Also it is designed to serve as a handbook in institutions for higher education, where the subject of ethics is usually offered to hearers who, though already well advanced in a course of liberal studies, are presumed to have no acquaintance with this branch of philosophy. My experience in teaching it has led me to give such pupils primarily a rounded scheme, postponing an examination of the various and often conflicting views of philosophical moralists. Accordingly, in this elementary treatise, I have simply presented my preferred theory, starting from a principle, proceeding logically in the development of a complete system, and indicating cursorily many practical applications.
The preparation has been long and diligent. I have been in search of truth, glad to receive light from any source, and have now summed the results of my reading, thinking and teaching for many years in what is here offered to my fellow-teachers, hoping it may be suited to their wants, and aid them in imparting high ideals and shaping noble characters. Naturally I am solicitous that my work should be well received and approved, but whatever judgment be finally passed upon it, I shall have been conscious of sincere desire and earnest endeavor to reach and teach sound doctrine. This task finished, I shall hardly undertake another, but rest in the hope that what is now done shall be found
well done, proving a step toward truth in philosophy, and a help toward righteousness in life.
An apology is perhaps needed for overstepping bounds with so large a bundle of annotations; which, since they are not at all essential to unfolding the theory, might have been omitted, and may be overlooked. This desultory collection of citations from authorities, of quotations from general literature, of discussions on minor points, together with whatever occurred to me as illustrative, constitutes in some measure a variorum, an anthology. I feel quite sure that the scholarly reader will be pleased to see the very words of eminent writers, that the earnest student will be glad to have side-lights and finger-posts on the way, and that neither will be offended if here and there he stumble on an enliven
Also I apologize for the marginal references to my other works, “ The Theory of Thought,” “ Elements of Deductive Logic,” “ Elements of Inductive Logic,” and “ Elements of Psychology.” As they together with this essay form a connected series, the reference from one to another avoids repetition of statement, yet preserves continuity of treatment.
Acknowledgments are due to Professor Collins Denny of Vanderbilt University, once my pupil, now my peer. By his encouragement the work has been accomplished, by his critical revision emended, and by his thoughtful suggestions enriched.
NOAH K. DAVIS
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA