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Henry Sidgwick

Henry was an English utilitarian philosopher and economist. He was the Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Cambridge from 1883 until his death, and is best known in philosophy for his utilitarian treatise The Methods of Ethics. He was one of the founders and first president of the Society for Psychical Research and a member of the Metaphysical Society and promoted the higher education of women. His work in economics has also had a lasting influence. In 1875 he co-founded Newnham College, a women-only constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Newnham College’s co-founder was Millicent Garrett Fawcett. In The Methods of Ethics he granted moral consideration to sentient beings, not just to humans. The term “sentient” appears 47 times in the text.

Henry had a lifelong interest in the paranormal. Despite his role in institutionalizing parapsychology as a discipline, apparently he had upon it an “overwhelmingly negative, destructive effect, akin to that of recent debunkers of parapsychology”. He and his Sidgwick Group associates became notable for exposing fraud mediums. While he was brought up in the Church of England by a Reverend father, he turned away from the church and was later agnostic. Much of his ethical work focused on developing foundations for morality that did not require any supernatural basis.
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