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August 4, 1989

Morality: A New Justification of the Moral Rules

JAMA. 1989;262(5):703-704. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430050121048

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This book is a substantial revision (thus the new title) of the author's earlier book The Moral Rules, first published in 1970. In the new version, Gert develops a complete moral theory whose core is an analysis of morality as impartial rationality and from which he derives a substantive moral system.

There is space to give only the barest outline of his moral theory and system. He conceives of morality as a public system applying to all rational persons and whose goal is the minimization of evil. Gert rejects common accounts of rationality as merely instrumental and instead defines it in terms of a substantive definition of goods and evils. Evils are what all rational persons desire to avoid for themselves and others they care about and are specifically death, pain, disability, and loss of freedom or pleasure. Goods are what no rational person will avoid without a reason and