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3rd Edition

Basic Ethics





ISBN 9780367638740
Published December 30, 2020 by Routledge
264 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

 
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Book Description

Basic Ethics presents for a wide range of students and other interested readers the questions raised in thinking about ethical problems, the answers offered by moral philosophy, and the means to better integrate into both the reader’s world and personal life. It takes up what the author calls a "worldview theory," which shows readers how to begin with the values and understanding of the world that they already possess in order to transition from there to new levels of increasing ethical awareness. Updates to the third edition include the more thorough integration of feminist ethics into the principal theoretical traditions, a new chapter on the ethical responsibility to be well informed of current events, expanded coverage of human rights, and additional opportunities on how to use ethical reasoning in thinking about one’s own life and about public policy.

Key Features:

  • Links personal values to a philosophical treatment of the major ethical theories
  • Presents ethics in the context of social/political issues that face our nation and the world
  • Challenges the student to react to the presented material through critical exercises that may be used as weekly assignments and can form the basis of class discussion and evaluation.
  • Engages the student to think about underlying issues first (in the basic questions) before presenting the most popular solutions (in the basic answers)
  • Invites the reader to make up her own mind on how to formulate an ethical theory that will help her in her own life
  • Offers a 16-chapter format to fit into most college-semester calendars
  • Presents an overall structure that establishes foundational problems in ethical theory in the first section of the book that are variously addressed by the different ethical theories in the second section of the book
  • Highlights key terms to help the reader grapple with issues raised (which are reviewed and defined in a final Glossary)
  • Includes a final chapter designed to help students comprehend the book in its entirety.

Updates to the Third Edition:

  • Highlights new research on human rights and their relevance to ethical thinking and contemporary moral issues
  • Integrates feminist ethics into the principal theoretical traditions: virtue ethics, ethical intuitionism, and some versions of deontology
  • Provides new coverage of "fake news" and the moral responsibility to be well and accurately informed of current events
  • Expands opportunities to use ethical reasoning in thinking about one’s own life and about public policy.

Table of Contents

Part I: The Basic Questions

1. Living in a World of Values
I. Who We Are and What Do We Value?
II.What Is Ethics?
III.The Individual: Metaethics, Normative Ethics, and Applied Ethics

IV. The Society: Social and Political Ethics

Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

2. Personal Worldview and Community Worldview
I. The Normative Nature of Worldview
II. Personal Worldview
III. Community Worldview
Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

3. The Ethical Duty to Be Knowledgeable about Your World
I. Epistemology and Action Theory
II. Living in Community and the Obligation to Be an Active Member
III. What Are Facts and What Is Opinion?
IV. Facts and Decision Making
V. How to Ferret out Facts from Propaganda
VI. Deductive, Inductive, and Abductive Logic

Conclusion
Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

4. Relativism
I. Cultural Relativism
II. Moral Relativism
III. What Is at Stake?
Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

5. Egoism
I. Introduction
II. Psychological Egoism
III. Ethical Egoism
IV. Egoism and Altruism

Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

6. Are People Good or Bad?
I. Introduction
II. Humans Are Bad
III. Humans Are Good
IV. What Difference Does It Make?
Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

7. Morality and Religion
I. Introduction
II. The Origin of the Problem
III. Absolute Good
IV. Divine Command Theory
V. An Ethics with and without Religion
Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

8. Feminist Ethics
I. Introduction
II. Gender: Are Men and Women Different?
III. Care and Justice
IV. Race: What Is Race and Why Is It an Issue?
V. Opportunity and Desert
V. Where Does Feminist Ethics Find a Home in Traditional Theories?
Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

Part II: The Basic Answers

9. It’s All about Your Intuition: Ethical Intuitionism
I. Snapshot
II. The Problem this Theory Addresses
III. The Argument for the Theory
IV. The Argument against the Theory
Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

10. It’s All about Your Attitude: Ethical Non-Cognitivism
I. Snapshot
II. The Problem this Theory Addresses
III. The Argument for the Theory
IV. The Argument against the Theory
Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

11. It’s All about Freely Made Agreements: Ethical Contractarianism
I. Snapshot
II. The Problem this Theory Addresses
III. The Argument for the Theory
IV. The Argument against the Theory
Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

12. It’s all About Your Character: Virtue Ethics
I. Snapshot
II. The Problem this Theory Addresses
III. The Argument for the Theory
IV. The Argument against the Theory
Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

13. It’s all About the Team: Utilitarianism
I. Snapshot
II. The Problem this Theory Addresses
III. The Argument for the Theory
IV. The Argument against the Theory
Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

14. It’s all About Your Duty: Deontology
I. Snapshot
II. The Problem this Theory Addresses
III. The Argument for the Theory
IV. The Argument against the Theory
Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

Part III: Putting it All Together

15. Human Rights
I. Snapshot
II. Supporting Human Rights via Traditional Theories
III. Ethical Realism and Anti-Realism and Human Rights
IV. Ethical Intuitionism and Human Rights
V. Ethical Non-Cognitivism and Human Rights
VI. Ethical Contractarianism and Human Rights
VII. Virtue Ethics and Human Rights
VIII. Utilitarianism and Human Rights
IX. Deontology and Human Rights

Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

16. Formulating Your Own Answers
I. Snapshot
II. The Problem
III. The Topography of Theory Evaluation
IV. How to Choose an Ethical Theory
V. Applying Ethical Theory to Contemporary Social/Political Problems
VI. Applying Ethical Theory to Personal Life Decisions

Key Terms
End of Chapter Exercise

Notes

Glossary

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Author(s)

Biography

Michael Boylan is Professor of Philosophy at Marymount University. He is the author of 37 books including: A Just Society (2004); Morality and Global Justice (2010); Natural Human Rights: A Theory (2014); Fictive Narrative Philosophy: How Fiction Can Act As Philosophy (2019); and The De Anima Novels and The Arche Novels (ten philosophical novels published between 2007 and 2020). He has been an invited speaker at universities in 15 countries on 5 continents and has served on national governmental policy committees.

Reviews

Praise for previous editions:

"Basic Ethics is an unusually rewarding text. It takes the student through central topics of normative ethics and metaethics, but it does so in a critical and constructive way that sheds new light on their basic issues. Boylan also adds helpful sections on applied ethics, as well as challenging and illuminating discussion of the importance of personal worldviews—both for moral philosophy and for human life as a whole. The book is written in a style that is at once engaging and rigorous."
Alan Gewirth, University of Chicago

"I really like the underlying theme of a worldview throughout the book. The opportunity for students to reflect on values, where they stem from, and what is right and wrong and why is something everyone should explore."
Jeff Anstine, North Central College, Naperville, IL

"Basic Ethics nicely combines a survey of the main contending ethical theories with a reasonable procedure for enabling students to select among these. It should make an excellent text!"
James Sterba, University of Notre Dame