When Method in Ethical Theory was initially published in 1963, it called for greater awareness of how an agenda for moral philosophy is established and the conditons under which it changes. Edel strives for effective comparison of ethical theories, denying that any one theory has exclusive claim to the truth about ethics. He maintains that different theories are appropriate for particular conditions. In Method in Ethical Theory, he works out an approach for ethical theory that is both critical and comprehensive.
Edel presents four approaches to his study: the analytical deals with terms and concepts; the descriptive seeks to accurately depict, classify, and interpret moral qualities and situations; the causal-explanatory raises questions about functional relations; and the evaluative critically observes and applies standards. Alongside of these perspectives, Edel sets up a comparative approach, one that grounds the study of ethics hi empirical and historical research.
In his new introduction, Edel describes the historical context in which his book was written, and explains his reasons for writing it thirty years ago. Method in Ethical Theory continues to be a fundamental contribution to ethical studies. It will be of interest to philosophers, sociologists, and specialists in the study of ethics.