What is this thing called Ethics?  book cover
2nd Edition

What is this thing called Ethics?

ISBN 9780415832335
Published February 6, 2015 by Routledge
218 Pages

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Book Description

What is morality? How do we define what is right and wrong? How does moral theory help us deal with ethical issues in the world around us?

This second edition provides an engaging and stimulating introduction to philosophical thinking about morality. Christopher Bennett provides the reader with accessible examples of contemporary and relevant ethical problems, before looking at the main theoretical approaches and key philosophers associated with them. Topics covered include:

  • life and death issues such as abortion and global poverty;
  • the meaning of life; whether life is sacred and which lives matter;
  • major moral theories such as utilitarianism, Kantian ethics and virtue ethics;
  • critiques of morality from Marx and Nietzsche.

What is this Thing Called Ethics? has been thoroughly revised and updated throughout, with a new final chapter on meta-ethics.

With boxed case studies, discussion questions and further reading included within each chapter this textbook is the ideal introduction to ethics for philosophy students coming to the subject for the first time.

Table of Contents

Introduction  Part 1: Life and Death  1. Death and the Meaning of Life  2. Which Lives Count?  3. How Much Can we be Expected to do for One Another?  Part 2: Three Starting Points in Moral Theory  4. Utilitarianism  5. Kantian Ethics  6. Aristotelian Virtue Ethics  Part 3: Further Directions for Moral Thinking  7. Ethics and Religion  8. Morality and Contract  9. Critiques of Morality  10. Meta-ethics  Conclusion  Glossary of Terms  Index

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Christopher Bennett is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Sheffield, UK. His research interests include moral, political and legal philosophy. His previous publications include The Apology Ritual: A Philosophical Theory of Punishment (2008).


Praise for the first edition:

'What is particularly appealing about this volume are its clarity of style, organization, and accessibility. Each chapter presents six or seven aspects of the problem in question, a conclusion, a set of excellent questions for discussion, and a good, short bibliography. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-level undergraduates; general readers.' - CHOICE

'This is an excellent introduction to ethics, and will be of great help and interest to undergraduate students, their tutors, and their lecturers … It presents a very fair and balanced – not to mention comprehensive and subtle – examination of the subject … The chapters are full of interesting and thought-provoking examples, and the writing is clear and engaging.' – Michael Brady, University of Glasgow, UK

'Christopher Bennett’s What is this thing called Ethics? is an engaging introduction to moral and applied philosophy. The author guides the reader through some of the central ideas in moral philosophy and introduces them to some of the main traditions of moral thought, such as utilitarianism, Kantianism and Aristotelianism. The author, however, also relates the theoretical issues to practical questions and considers some of the most crucial issues that allied philosophy has to tackle, such as questions concerning life and death and questions concerning the responsibilities that people have towards one another. As such, this book should prove invaluable to readers unfamiliar with philosophy and for students who need a clear and non-technical introduction to moral and applied philosophy.' – Nick Buttle, University of the West of England, UK

'This introduction is outstanding. Christopher Bennett encourages his reader to actively reflect on key moral questions in a highly engaging book covering all major topics. This book is a must have for any student interested in the subject. It is accessibly written without sacrificing sufficient depth. The selection of major topics is wide-ranging and ideal for classroom use. I highly recommend this book.' – Thom Brooks, University of Newcastle, UK

'This is a first rate introduction to ethics. What sets Bennett’s book apart from the rest is the time he devotes to laying out the deep questions and problems that have motivated philosophical inquiry. In addition, Bennett addresses the challenges to ethics – such as skepticism and relativism – with unusual candor and intelligence. This book would fit very well in an undergraduate ethics course, and is engaging and accessible reading for anyone interested in how philosophers have approached moral issues.' - Tamler Sommers, University of Houston, USA