When Principia Ethica appeared, in 1903, it became something of a sacred text for the Cambridge-educated elites-Lytton Strachey, Leonard Woolf, John Maynard Keynes-who, along with Virginia Woolf, would form the core of the Bloomsbury Group. In a letter of October 11, 1903, Strachey confesses to Moore that he is "carried away" by Principia, which inaugurates, for him, "the beginning of the Age of Reason." Moore's critique of convention, his caustic dismissal of his philosophical predecessors, and the relentless rigor of his method promised a revolution in morality commensurate with the modernist transformation of art and literature. Principia Ethica shifted the study of ethics away from normative questions to issues of "metaethics," the study of ethical concepts. Realism vs. relativism, the relation of goodness to rightness, and the logic of moral argument would come to dominate philosophical ethics for the next century, even when Moore's philosophical heirs differed from him in their conclusions. In this sense, Moore established the methods and issues that would define Anglo-American reasoning about ethics from W. D. Ross (1877-1971) to Elizabeth Anscombe (1919-2001) to John Rawls (1921-2002) to Bernard Williams (1929-2003).
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Davis, G. Scott. "Introduction." In Principia Ethica, by George E. Moore, ix-xvi. Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2005.