Ethics: Essential Readings in Moral Theory

Ethics: Essential Readings in Moral Theory

Language: English

Pages: 840

ISBN: 0415782317

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Ethics: Essential Readings in Moral Theory is an outstanding anthology of the most important topics, theories and debates in ethics, compiled by one of the leading experts in the field. It includes sixty-six extracts covering the central domains of ethics:

  • why be moral?
  • the meaning of moral language
  • morality and objectivity
  • consequentialism
  • deontology
  • virtue and character
  • value and well-being
  • moral psychology
  • applications: including abortion, famine relief and consent.

Included are both classical extracts from Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant and Mill, as well as contemporary classics from philosophers such as Thomas Nagel, Thomas Scanlon, Martha Nussbaum, Derek Parfit, and Peter Singer.

A key feature of the anthology is that it covers the perennial topics in ethics as well as very recent ones, such as moral psychology, responsibility and experimental philosophy. Each section is introduced and placed in context by the editor, making this an ideal anthology for anyone studying ethics or ethical theory.

Double-Effect Reasoning: Doing Good and Avoiding Evil

The Rip: True Stories of Stock Brokerage Corruption

Rethinking Autonomy: A Critique of Principlism in Biomedical Ethics

The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life

Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher




















Not that every legitimate scientific hypothesis is susceptible to direct observational testing. Certain hypotheses about “black holes” in space cannot be directly tested, for example, because no signal is emitted from within a black hole. The connection with observation in such a case is indirect. And there are many similar examples. Nevertheless, seen in the large, there is the apparent difference between science and ethics we have noted. The scientific realm is accessible to observation in a

help if I contrast my general approach with his. I am approaching questions about the justification of belief in the spirit of what Quine has called “epistemology naturalized.”22 I take this to mean that we have in general no a priori way of knowing which strategies for forming and refining our beliefs are likely to take us closer to the truth. The only way we have of proceeding is to assume the approximate truth of what seems to us the best overall theory we already have of what we are like and

unrelated to receiving the advantages. The argument of long-term prudence, that I ought to incur some immediate disadvantage so that I shall receive compensating advantages later on, is entirely inapplicable here. III It will be useful to examine in some detail an example of a system which possesses those characteristics ascribed by the thesis to morality. This example, abstracted from the field of international relations, will enable us more clearly to distinguish, first, conduct based on

know it, because of the announcements they have made to each other. Now consider an exchange of ideas, of meanings, rather than an exchange of practical reasons. Here we do not find these two possibilities. If meanings could not be shared, there would be no point in announcing the results of one’s private thinking to anybody else. If they can be shared, then it is in principle possible to think the issues through together, and that is what people do when they talk. But if we have to grant that

can survive the strongest arguments designed to undermine it. The Reasons Internalist Argument, the Rational Egoist Argument, the Analogical Argument and the Argument from Extrinsic Reasons do not, in the end, point up insuperable difficulties for the rationalist. There are strong considerations to do with the conceptual coherence and the fairness of moral evaluation that support moral rationalism. And rationalism’s insistence on the irreducibly normative character of moral facts should not be an

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