1st Edition

Ethics: Essential Readings in Moral Theory

Edited By

George Sher

ISBN 9780415782319
Published January 9, 2012 by Routledge
840 Pages

USD $83.95

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction George Sher  Part 1: Why be Moral?  1. The Ring of Gyges Plato  2. Psychological Egoism Joel Feinberg  3. Morality and Self-Interest Thomas Hobbes  4. Morality and Advantage David Gauthier  5. Selections from The Sources of Normativity Christine Korsgaard  6. Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives Philippa Foot  7. Moral Rationalism Russ Shafer-Landau  Part 2: The Meaing of Moral Language  8. Morality and Natural Sentiment David Hume  9. Goodness as Simple and Indefinable G. E. Moore  10. The Emotive Theory of Ethics A. J. Ayer  11. Selections from Ruling Passions Simon Blackburn  12. A Critique of Non-Cognitivism, selection from Moral Realism: A Defense Russ Shafer-Landau  13. Euthyphro Plato  14. A New Divine Command Theory Robert Merrihew Adams  Part 3: Morality, Objectivity, and Knowledge  15. The Challenge of Cultural Relativism James Rachels  16. Ethics and Observation Gilbert Harman  17. Moral Explanations Nicholas Sturgeon  18. The Subjectivity of Value J. L. Mackie  19. Selections from The View from Nowhere Thomas Nagel  20. Selections from Moral Skepticisms Walter Sinnott-Armstrong  21. But I Could Be Wrong George Sher  Part 4: Normative Ethics: Consequentialism  22. Utilitarianism John Stuart Mill  23. A Critique of Utilitarianism Bernard Williams  24. Classical Utilitarianism John Rawls  25. Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality Peter Railton  26. Rule-Consequentialism Brad Hooker  27. Scalar Morality Alastair Norcross  28. Should the Numbers Count John Taurek  Part 5: Normative Ethics: Deontology  29. Morality and Rationality Immanuel Kant  30. Reading kant's groundwork David Velleman  31. The Right to Lie: Kant on Dealing with Evil Christine Korsgaard  32. Maria von Herbert's Challenge to Kant Rae Langton  33. Selections from A Theory of Justice John Rawls  34. Contractualism and Utilitarianism Thomas Scanlon  35. What Makes Right Acts Right W. D. Ross  36. Selections from Ethics Without Principles Jonathan Dancy  Part 6: Virtue and Character  37. The Nature of Moral Virtue Aristotle  38. Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach Martha Nussbaum  39. Selection from Virtue, Vice, and Value Thomas Hurka  40. Beyond Morality, selections from Beyond Good and Evil and The Genealogy of Morals Friedrich Nietzsche  41. Persons, Character, and Morality Bernard Willliams  42. Moral Saints Susan Wolf   43. Selection from On Virtue Ethics Rosalind Hursthouse  44. Selection from Lack of Character John Doris  Part 7: Value and Well-being   45. Pleasure as the Good Jeremy Bentham  46. The Experience Machine Robert Nozick  47. The Good Life Epicurus  48. Goodness as the Satisfaction of Informed Desire Richard Brandt  49. Facts and Values Peter Railton  50. Perfectionism, selections from Perfectionism Thomas Hurka  51. What Makes Someone's Life Go Best? Derek Parfit  52. The Buck-Passing Account of Value, selection from What We Owe to Each Other Thomas Scanlon  Part 8: Responsibility and Moral Psychology  53. Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person Harry Frankfurt  54. The Genesis of Shame David Velleman  55. Freedom and Resentment P. F. Strawson  56. Responsibility and the Limits of Evil Gary Watson  57. Moral Luck Thomas Nagel  58. Moral Responsibility and Determinism: The Cognitive Science of Folk Intuitions Shaun Nichols and Joshua Knobe  59. The Secret Joke of Kant's Soul Joshua Greene  Part 9: Applications  60. A Defense of Abortion Judith Jarvis Thomson  61. Subsidized Abortion: Moral Rights and Moral Compromise George Sher  62. Famine, Affluence, and Morality Peter Singer  63. Beneficence, Duty, and Distance Richard Miller  64. What is Wrong With Slavery R. M. Hare  65. Between Consenting Adults Onora O’Neill  66. Death Thomas Nagel.  Index

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George Sher is Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Philosophy at Rice University, USA. He is the author Desert (1987), Beyond Neutrality: Perfectionism and Politics (1997), Approximate Justice: Studies in Non-Ideal Theory (1997), In Praise of Blame (2006), and Who Knew? Responsibility Without Awareness (2009). He is also a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellow at the Princeton Center for Human Values.


"This new anthology is the best textbook in moral theory by far. The selections are a judicious combination of the classic and the new, carefully and skillfully edited." - David McNaughton, Florida State University, USA

"The text is well structured and the readings well chosen: they are important, interesting, varied, popular and up-to-date. The book serves as a fine representation of essential work in analytic moral philosophy." - Helena de Bres, Wellesley College, USA

"These readings have clearly been selected with great care, and Sher's introductions provide just the right amount of guidance and narrative coherence. The result is an impressively wide-ranging yet student-friendly textbook, one of the best ethics anthologies out there." - Neal Tognazzini, College of William and Mary, USA