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In This Section:
I. Author Bio
II. Author Letter
I. Author Bio
Dr. Bruce N. Waller is Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Youngstown State University. He received his Ph.D. in 1979 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His other works include Consider Ethics: Theory, Readings, and Contemporary Issues, Critical Thinking: Consider the Verdict, You Decide! Current Debates in Criminal Justice, You Decide! Current Debates in Contemporary Moral Problems, You Decide! Current Debates in Introductory Philosophy, You Decide! Current Debates in Ethics, and Coffee and Philosophy: A Conversational Introduction to Philosophy with Readings.
II. Author Letter
Consider Ethics is based on the belief that undergraduate students from widely divergent backgrounds and levels of preparation can understand, appreciate, and benefit from the best and most insightful work on ethical theory. My students at Youngstown State University have provided solid evidence to substantiate that belief: they arrive at YSU from rough inner city schools, richly-funded suburban schools, and grossly underfunded rural schools. They come from the Appalachian region of southern Ohio and West Virginia, from the coal mining districts of Pennsylvania, and from the rust belt cities of northeast Ohio and they represent every ethnic group that arrived in Youngstown to work in the steel mills.
They come together to examine, explore and debate ethical theories, to share perspectives and insights, and to learn with and from one another. They demonstrate, year after year, that they are fully capable of the careful study of ethical theory, that they find the subject fascinating, and that they not only gain richer perspectives on ethics and a deeper understanding of their own views, but also make significant gains in their philosophical abilities and in their self-confidence for tackling difficult subjects. It is the success and the insights of those students that inspired this book, and that has guided the development of new editions.
Ethical theory is not an esoteric mystery, but instead the rigorous development of ideas and views that people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds find fascinating. It is a subject of important historical insights, exciting contemporary developments, challenging arguments, and deep disagreements. The study of ethical study enables students to view contemporary ethical debates from new perspectives and different angles – often allowing them space and freedom to re-evaluate their beliefs on specific ethical issues.
What remains from earlier editions is the overall style and structure of the text: the major approaches to ethical theory, from classical to contemporary, are presented in an accessible conversational style, together with representative passages from major theorists. Every chapter includes challenging questions for reflection and discussion that pose difficult quandaries, avoid easy answers, and push students to think hard and reflectively about their own conclusions.
In the 3rd Edition, there are new exercises for every chapter, a number of new readings (both classical and contemporary), new boxed quotations, examples and questions. There are new specific debates on the question of performance-enhancing drugs as well as the issue of police use of deceptive interrogation practices, as well as new sections on value pluralism and on sentimentalism. All of the new material has been tested on my own long-suffering students, who have been wonderfully frank in telling me what material does – and does not – work.
I would be delighted to hear from anyone reviewing, teaching, or studying this book, and am always happy to receive suggestions for improvements as well as new exercises for reflection and analysis. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bruce N. Waller
Youngstown State University
Table of Contents
1. Thinking About Ethics.
Ethics and Critical Thinking.
God's Commandments and Ethics.
Religion and Ethics.
Reading: Plato, Euthyphro.
2. Ethics and Reason.
Reasoning about Ethics.
Elements of Kantian Ethics.
Criticisms of Kantian Ethics.
Reading: Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals.
3. Ethics and Emotions.
Follow Your Reason or Follow Your Heart?
Objective and Subjective Feelings.
Reading: Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature.
4. Utilitarian Ethics.
Act- vs. Rule-Utilitarians.
Utiliatarians and the Quality of Pleasures.
Criticisms of Utilitarian Ethics.
Nozick’s Challenge to Utilitarian Ethics
The Uses of Utilitarian Ethics.
Opposition to Utilitarianism.
Reading: Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.
Reading: Mill, What Utilitarianism Is.
5. Social Contract Ethics.
Framing the Social Contract.
Fairness and Social Contract Theory: John Rawls.
Gauthier's Contractarian Ethics.
The Social Contract Myth and its Underlying Assumptions.
Reading: Hobbes, Leviathan.
6. Egoism, Relativism, and Pragmatism.
Readings: Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope.
7. Virtue Ethics.
The Distinctive Focus of Virtue Ethics.
The Strengths of Virtue Ethics.
Criticisms of Virtue Theory.
Virtue Theory and Medicine.
Reading: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.
8. Care Ethics.
The Neglect of Women's Ethical Views.
The Care Perspectives on Ethics.
Women and Ethics.
Reading: Baier, The Need for More than Justice.
9. The Scope of Morality.
Who is Due Moral Consideration?
Darwin and the Moral Status of Nonhuman Animals.
Reading: Darwin, The Descent of Man.
Reading: Frans de Waal, Primates and Philosophers.
10. Ethical NonObjectivism.
The Nature of Ethical Nonobjectivism.
Arguments for Ethical Nonobjectivism.
The Continuing Struggle Between Objectivists and Nonobjectivists.
Reading: Ayer, Language, Truth, and Logic.
11. Moral Realism.
Contemporary Moral Realism.
Moral Realism and the Argument from Simplicity.
Moral Facts and Scientific Revolutions.
Two Ways that Moral Realism Might Fail.
Reading: Smith, Realism.
12. How Hard is Ethics?
The Demands of Ethical Living.
Comparing Ethical Systems on the Basis of Difficulty.
Duty and Feelings.
Reading: Mencius, Book of Mencius.
13. Free Will.
Determinism and Free Will.
Libertarian Free Will and the Rejection of Determinism.
Reading: Wolf, Asymmetrical Freedom.
14. Freedom, Moral Responsibility, and Ethics.
Types of Responsibility.
Moral Responsibility and the Utility of Punishment.
Conditions for Moral Responsibility.
Moral Responsibility and Ethics.
Reading: Nagel, Moral Luck.
15. The Death Penalty.
The Death Penalty Should Be Abolished – Stephen Bright
The Death Penalty is Morally Legitimate – Louis Pojman
Abortion is Immoral – Don Marquis
Most Abortions Are Morally Legitimate – Bonnie Steinbock
17: Animal Rights
Nonhuman animals have no basic rights – Richard Posner
Nonhuman Animals Have Important rights – Peter Singer
18: Homosexual Sex
Homosexual sex is wrong -- John Finnis
Homosexual relations are morally legitimate -- John Corvino
19: What Are Our Global Obligations to the Impoverished?
We have a limited moral obligation to help impoverished people in other countries -- Thomas Nagel
We have a very strong moral obligation to help impoverished people in other countries -- Thomas Pogge
20: Can Terrorism Ever Be Justified?
Terrorism is always wrong -- Tony Coady
Terrorism might sometimes be justified -- Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez