The Fundamentals of Ethics

The Fundamentals of Ethics

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In The Fundamentals of Ethics, author Russ Shafer-Landau employs a uniquely engaging writing style to introduce students to the essential ideas of moral philosophy. Offering more comprehensive coverage of the good life, normative ethics, and metaethics than any other text of its kind, this book also addresses issues that are often omitted from other texts, such as the doctrine of doing and allowing, the doctrine of double effect, ethical particularism, the desire-satisfaction theory of well-being, and moral error theory. Shafer-Landau carefully reconstructs and analyzes dozens of arguments in depth, at a level that is understandable to students with no prior philosophical background. Ideal for courses in introductory ethics and contemporary moral problems, this book can be used as a stand-alone text or with the author's companion reader, The Ethical Life: Fundamental Readings in Ethics and Moral Problems, which offers original readings exploring the topics covered in The Fundamentals of Ethics.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 144.78 x 213.36 x 22.86mm | 476.27g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195326857
  • 9780195326857
  • 1,986,065

Review quote

"The Fundamentals of Ethics is a superb book: accessible, illuminating, and comprehensive. Shafer-Landau begins where students first confronting moral philosophy begin: with their everyday assumptions, expectations, and vocabulary. Through engaging questions and lively thought experiments, keeping jargon and overt instruction to an absolute minimum, he leads the reader to an articulate and self-aware grasp of the fundamental issues. In sum: the best such introductory text I know of."--Niko Kolodny, University of California, Berkeley"This is a great introduction to ethics, the finest that I am aware of. I am eager to use it in my classes. . . . It is similar in structure to the wildly popular Rachels introductory ethics text but better. . . . Shafer-Landau's writing is perfect for his intended audience."--David Sobel, University of Nebraska, Lincoln"The main strength in my mind is the clarity of the writing. Shafer-Landau has a gift for conveying the core ideas of different ethical theories, as well as fairly presenting their various strengths and weaknesses. Students will come away from reading The Fundamentals of Ethics with a very good understanding of philosophical thinking about a wide variety of issues in ethical theory."--Christian Miller, Wake Forest University "The Fundamentals of Ethics is a superb book: accessible, illuminating, and comprehensive. Shafer-Landau begins where students first confronting moral philosophy begin: with their everyday assumptions, expectations, and vocabulary. Through engaging questions and lively thought experiments, keeping jargon and overt instruction to an absolute minimum, he leads the reader to an articulate and self-aware grasp of the fundamental issues. In sum: the best such introductory text I know of."--Niko Kolodny, University of California, Berkeley"This is a great introduction to ethics, the finest that I am aware of. I am eager to use it in my classes. . . . It is similar in structure to the wildly popular Rachels introductory ethics text but better. . . . Shafer-Landau's writing is perfect for his intended audience."--David Sobel, University of Nebraska, Lincoln"The main strength in my mind is the clarity of the writing. Shafer-Landau has a gift for conveying the core ideas of different ethical theories, as well as fairly presenting their various strengths and weaknesses. Students will come away from reading The Fundamentals of Ethics with a very good understanding of philosophical thinking about a wide variety of issues in ethical theory."--Christian Miller, Wake Forest Universityshow more

Table of contents

Acknowledgments ; A Note on the Companion Volume ; A Note to Readers ; INTRODUCTION ; The Lay of the Land ; Ethical Starting Points ; Moral Reasoning ; The Role of Moral Theory ; Looking Ahead ; PART I: THE GOOD LIFE ; 1. Hedonism: Its Powerful Appeal ; Happiness and Intrinsic Value ; The Attractions of Hedonism ; There Are Many Models of a Good Life ; Personal Authority and Well-Being ; Misery Clearly Hampers A Good Life; Happiness Clearly Improves It ; The Limits of Explanation ; Rules of the Good Life-And Their Exceptions ; Happiness is What We Want For Our Loved Ones ; 2. Is Happiness All That Matters? ; The Paradox of Hedonism ; Evil Pleasures ; The Two Worlds ; False Happiness ; The Importance of Autonomy ; Life's Trajectory ; Unhappiness as a Symptom of Harm ; Conclusion ; 3. Getting What You Want ; A Variety of Good Lives ; Personal Authority ; Avoiding Objective Values ; Motivation ; Justifying the Pursuit of Self-Interest ; Knowledge of the Good ; 4. Problems for the Desire Theory ; Getting What You Want May Not be Necessary for Promoting Your Good ; Getting What You Want May Not be Sufficient for Promoting Your Good ; Desires Based on False Beliefs ; Ignorance of Desire Satisfaction ; Disinterested and Other-Regarding Desires ; Passing Fancies ; Disappointment ; Impoverished Desires ; The Paradox of Self-Harm ; The Fallibility of Our Deepest Desires ; Conclusion ; PART II: DOING THE RIGHT THING ; 5. Morality and Religion ; Three Assumptions about Religion and Morality ; God and Moral Motivation ; God as the Creator of Morality ; Religion as a Source of Moral Guidance ; Conclusion ; 6. Natural Law Theory ; The Theory and Its Attractions ; Two Conceptions of Human Nature ; Human Nature is What is Innately Human ; Human Nature is What All Humans Have in Common ; Natural Purposes ; The Argument from Humanity ; Conclusion ; 7. Psychological Egoism ; Egoism and Altruism ; The Argument from Our Strongest Desires ; The Argument from Expected Benefit ; The Argument from the Avoidance of Misery ; Two Egoistic Strategies ; Letting the Evidence Decide ; Conclusion ; 8. Ethical Egoism ; Why Be Moral? ; Two Popular Arguments for Ethical Egoism ; The Best Argument for Ethical Egoism ; Three Problems for Ethical Egoism ; Conclusion ; 9. Consequentialism: Its Nature and Attractions ; The Nature of Consequentialism ; Its Structure ; Maximizing Goodness ; Moral Knowledge ; Actual vs. Expected Results ; Assessing Actions and Intentions ; The Attractions of Utilitarianism ; Impartiality ; The Ability to Justify Conventional Moral Wisdom ; Conflict Resolution ; Moral Flexibility ; The Scope of the Moral Community ; 10. Consequentialism: Its Difficulties ; Measuring Well-Being ; Utilitarianism is Very Demanding With Respect To ; Deliberation ; Motivation ; Action ; Impartiality ; No Intrinsic Wrongness (or Rightness) ; The Problem of Justice ; Potential Solutions to the Problem of Justice ; Rule Consequentialism ; Conclusion ; 11. The Kantian Perspective: Fairness and Justice ; Consistency and Fairness ; The Principle of Universalizability ; Morality and Rationality ; Assessing the Principle of Universalizability ; Integrity ; Kant on Absolute Moral Duties ; 12. The Kantian Perspective: Autonomy and Respect ; The Principle of Humanity ; The Importance of Rationality and Autonomy ; The Good Will and Moral Worth ; Vagueness ; Determining Just Deserts ; Are We Autonomous? ; Moral Luck ; The Scope of the Moral Community ; Conclusion ; 13. The Social Contract Tradition: Theory and Attractions ; The Lure of Proceduralism ; The Background of the Social Contract Theory ; The Prisoner's Dilemma ; Cooperation and the State of Nature ; The Advantages of Contractarianism ; More Advantages: Morality and the Law ; 14. The Social Contract Tradition: Problems and Prospects ; Why Be Moral? ; The Role of Consent ; Disagreement among the Contractors ; The Scope of the Moral Community ; Conclusion ; 15. Ethical Pluralism and Absolute Moral Rules ; The Structure of Moral Theories ; Are There Any Absolute Moral Rules? ; Preventing Catastrophes ; The Doctrine of Double Effect ; Is Moral Absolutism Irrational? ; Moral Conflict and Contradiction ; The Doctrine of Doing and Allowing ; Conclusion ; 16. Ethical Pluralism: Prima Facie Duties and Ethical Particularism ; Ross's Ethic of Prima Facie Duties ; The Attractions of Ross's View ; Knowing the Fundamental Moral Rules ; Knowing the Right Thing To Do ; Ethical Particularism ; Conclusion ; 17. Virtue Ethics ; The Standard of Right Action ; Moral Complexity ; Moral Understanding ; Moral Education ; The Nature of Virtue ; Virtue and the Good Life ; Objections ; Tragic Dilemmas ; Does Virtue Ethics Offer Adequate Moral Guidance? ; Is Virtue Ethics Too Demanding? ; Who Are The Moral Exemplars? ; Conflict and Contradiction ; The Priority Problem ; Conclusion ; 18. The Ethics of Feminism ; The Elements of Feminist Ethics ; Moral Development ; Women's Experience ; The Ethics of Care ; The Importance of Emotions ; Against Unification ; Against Impartiality and Abstraction ; Against Competition ; Downplaying Rights ; Challenges for Feminist Ethics ; PART III: THE STATUS OF MORALITY ; 19. Ethical Relativism ; Moral Skepticism ; Two Kinds of Ethical Relativism ; Some Implications of Ethical Subjectivism and Cultural Relativism ; Moral Infallibility ; Moral Equivalence ; No Intrinsic Value ; Questioning Our Own Commitments ; Moral Progress ; Contradiction and Disagreement ; Ideal Observers ; Conclusion ; 20. Moral Nihilism ; Moral Skepticism ; Expressivism ; Error Theory ; Conclusion ; 21. Ten Arguments against Moral Objectivity ; (1) Objectivity Requires Absolutism ; (2) All Truth is Subjective ; (3) Equal Rights Entail Equal Plausibility ; (4) Moral Objectivity Supports Dogmatism ; (5) Moral Objectivity Supports Intolerance ; (6) Moral Disagreement Undermines Moral Objectivity ; (7) Atheism Undermines Moral Objectivity ; (8) The Absence of Categorical Reasons Undermines Moral Objectivity ; (9) Moral Motivation Undermines Moral Objectivity ; (10) Values Have No Place In A Scientific World ; Conclusion ; References ; Suggestions for Further Reading ; Glossary ; Indexshow more

About Russ Shafer-Landau

Russ Shafer-Landau is Professor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the editor of Oxford Studies in Metaethics.show more

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