The Story of Ethics

The Story of Ethics : Fulfilling Our Human Nature

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For undergraduate courses in Ethics, History of Ethics, Ethical Theory, Religious Ethics, Christian Ethics, Introduction to Philosophy, and Philosophy of Human Nature.

Introduction to the history of ethics. The authors examine the ethical philosophies of prominent Western thinkers-from the ancients through the twentieth century-.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 170 pages
  • 149.86 x 226.06 x 7.62mm | 272.15g
  • Pearson
  • Upper Saddle River, NJ, United States
  • English
  • 013097840X
  • 9780130978400

Back cover copy

This brief introduction to the history of ethics engages readers in a compelling, refreshing study of the question, "Why be moral?" Kelly James Clark and Anne Poortenga situate the study of ethics within the context of more fundamental questions: "What kind of persons are human beings?" and "What kind of life should we live to fulfill ourselves as persons?" Clark and Poortenga trace the philosophic history of how these questions have been answered, beginning with Plato and Aristotle and extending to contemporary thinkers, such as Carol Gilligan, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Richard Rorty.

Features of The Story of Ethics: Engaging writing style Historical overviews of major ethical theories Focused attention on key ethical theorists, including Aristotle, Aquinas, Hume, Mill, and Nietzsche, among others Written as a coherent whole, which nevertheless can be broken into separate, easily assignable sections.
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Table of contents


1. The Homeric Tradition.
2. The Sophists.
3. Socrates.
4. Plato.
5. Aristotle.

6. Christianity.
7. Neoplatonism.
8. Augustine.
9. The Euthyphro Problem.
10. Thomas Aquinas.

11. Revolutions and Reformations.
12. Thomas Hobbes.
13. David Hume.
14. Immanuel Kant.
15. Mary Wollstonecraft.

16. Hegelianism and Materialism.
17. Karl Marx.
18. John Stuart Mill.
19. Kierkegaard.
20. Darwinism.
21. Friedrich Nietzsche.

22. G. E. Moore.
23. A. J. Ayer.
24. Jean-Paul Sartre.
25. Elizabeth Anscombe.
26. John Rawls.
27. R. M. Hare.
28. Alasdair MacIntyre.
29. Carol Gilligan.
30. Richard Rorty.
Conclusion: Human Nature, Human Morality, and Human Fulfillment?
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Review quote

"Finally, a user-friendly history of moral philosophy. Clark and Poortenga have produced a thorough and accessible history written in a lively and engaging style. It will be especially welcomed as a textbook by those of us who find it impossible to introduce students to moral philosophy without introducing them to its history. It will also be useful to philosophical beginners looking for an introduction to the history of ethics or to the more advanced student looking for a review." - David Solomon, H. P and W B. White Director, Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, University of Notre Dame

"Clark and Poortenga's book has the advantage of not only being short enough but also of communicating to an undergraduate in a conversational style that is accessible without sacrificing the profundity of the issues it raises. It shows students how thinkers even as remote in time as Plato were asking questions that they-students-discover are their own questions: Is morality all relative? Why is just following the rules good enough? What kind of person do 1 want to become? What is the best way to live my life?" - Rebecca Konyndyk De Young, Calvin College

"Clark and Poortenga have constructed a helpful and interesting journey through the history of ethics from ancient times to the contemporary world. Their book is one that will enable students to draw upon a rich philosophical tradition in answering the questions that matter in their own lives." - Gordon Graham, Regius Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Aberdeen
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Rating details

37 ratings
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3 30% (11)
2 11% (4)
1 3% (1)
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