The Fundamentals of Ethics

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  • Edition: 4th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2017-06-15
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In The Fundamentals of Ethics, Fourth Edition, author Russ Shafer-Landau employs a uniquely engaging writing style to introduce students to the essential ideas of moral philosophy. Offering more comprehensive coverage of the good life, normative ethics, and metaethics than any other text of
its kind, this book also addresses issues that are often omitted from other texts, such as the doctrine of doing and allowing, the doctrine of double effect, ethical particularism, the desire-satisfaction theory of well-being, moral error theory, and Ross's theory of prima facie duties.
Shafer-Landau carefully reconstructs and analyzes dozens of arguments in depth, at a level that is understandable to students with no prior philosophical background.

Ideal for courses in introductory ethics and contemporary moral problems, this book can be used as a stand-alone text or with the author's companion reader, The Ethical Life: Fundamental Readings in Ethics and Moral Problems, Fourth Edition.

Author Biography

Russ Shafer-Landau is Professor of Philosophy and Director of The Parr Center for Ethics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of several books including The Ethical Life, Fourth Edition (OUP, 2017). He is also the editor of Oxford Studies in Metaethics.

Table of Contents

New to the Fourth Edition
Instructor's Manual and Companion Website
A Note on the Companion Volume
The Lay of the Land
Skepticism about Ethics
Ethical Starting Points
What Is Morality?
Moral Reasoning
The Role of Moral Theory
Looking Ahead
1. Hedonism: Its Powerful Appeal
Happiness and Intrinsic Value
The Attractions of Hedonism
There Are Many Models of a Good Life
Personal Authority and Well-Being
Misery Clearly Hampers a Good Life; Happiness Clearly Improves It
The Limits of Explanation
Rules of the Good Life--and Their Exceptions
Happiness Is What We Want for Our Loved Ones
2. Is Happiness All That Matters?
The Paradox of Hedonism
Evil Pleasures
The Two Worlds
False Happiness
The Importance of Autonomy
Life's Trajectory
Unhappiness as a Symptom of Harm
3. Getting What You Want
A Variety of Good Lives
Personal Authority
Avoiding Objective Values
Justifying the Pursuit of Self-Interest
Knowledge of the Good
4. Problems for the Desire Theory
Getting What You Want May Not Be Necessary for Promoting Your Good
Getting What You Want May Not Be Sufficient for Promoting Your Good
Desires Based on False Beliefs
Disinterested and Other-Regarding Desires
Ignorance of Desire Satisfaction
Impoverished Desires
The Paradox of Self-Harm and Self-Sacrifice
The Fallibility of Our Deepest Desires
5. Morality and Religion
Three Assumptions about Morality and Religion
First Assumption: Religious Belief Is Needed for Moral Motivation
Second Assumption: God Is the Creator of Morality
Third Assumption: Religion Is an Essential Source of Moral Guidance
6. Natural Law
The Theory and Its Attractions
Three Conceptions of Human Nature
Human Nature as Animal Nature
Human Nature Is What Is Innate
Human Nature Is What All Humans Have in Common
Natural Purposes
The Argument from Humanity
7. Psychological Egoism
Egoism and Altruism
Does It Matter Whether Psychological Egoism Is True?
The Argument from Our Strongest Desires
The Argument from Expected Benefit
The Argument from Avoiding Misery
Two Egoistic Strategies
Appealing to the Guilty Conscience
Expanding the Realm of Self-Interest
Letting the Evidence Decide
8. Ethical Egoism
Why Be Moral?
Two Popular Arguments for Ethical Egoism
The Self-Reliance Argument
The Libertarian Argument
The Best Argument for Ethical Egoism
Three Problems for Ethical Egoism
Egoism Violates Core Moral Beliefs
Egoism Cannot Allow for the Existence of Moral Rights
Egoism Arbitrarily Makes My Interests All-Important
9. Consequentialism: Its Nature and Attractions
The Nature of Consequentialism
Its Structure
Maximizing Goodness
Moral Knowledge
Actual Versus Expected Results
Assessing Actions and Intentions
The Attractions of Utilitarianism
The Ability to Justify Conventional Moral Wisdom
Conflict Resolution
Moral Flexibility
The Scope of the Moral Community
Slippery Slope Arguments
10. Consequentialism: Its Difficulties
Measuring Well-Being
Utilitarianism Is Very Demanding
No Intrinsic Wrongness (or Rightness)
The Problem of Injustice
Potential Solutions to the Problem of Injustice
Justice Is Also Intrinsically Valuable
Injustice Is Never Optimific
Justice Must Sometimes Be Sacrificed
Rule Consequentialism
11. The Kantian Perspective: Fairness and Justice
Consistency and Fairness
The Principle of Universalizability
Morality and Rationality
Assessing the Principle of Universalizability
Kant on Absolute Moral Duties
12. The Kantian Perspective: Autonomy and Respect
The Principle of Humanity
The Importance of Rationality and Autonomy
The Good Will and Moral Worth
Five Problems with the Principle of Humanity
Determining Just Deserts
Are We Autonomous?
Moral Luck
The Scope of the Moral Community
13. The Social Contract Tradition: The Theory and Its Attractions
The Lure of Proceduralism
The Background of the Social Contract Theory
The Prisoner's Dilemma
Cooperation and the State of Nature
The Advantages of Contractarianism
Morality Is Essentially a Social Phenomenon
Contractarianism Explains and Justifies the Content of the Basic Moral Rules
Contractarianism Offers a Method for Justifying Every Moral Rule
Contractarianism Explains the Objectivity of Morality
Contractarianism Explains Why It Is Sometimes Acceptable to Break the Moral Rules
More Advantages: Morality and the Law
Contractarianism Justifies a Basic Moral Duty to Obey the Law
The Contractarian Justification of Legal Punishment
Contractarianism Justifies the State's Role in Criminal Law
Contractarianism and Civil Disobedience
14. The Social Contract Tradition: Problems and Prospects
Why Be Moral?
The Role of Consent
Disagreement among the Contractors
The Scope of the Moral Community
15. Ethical Pluralism and Absolute Moral Rules
The Structure of Moral Theories
Is Torture Always Immoral?
Preventing Catastrophes
The Doctrine of Double Effect
A Reply to the Argument from Disaster Prevention
How the DDE Threatens Act Consequentialism
Distinguishing Intention from Foresight
Moral Conflict and Contradiction
Is Moral Absolutism Irrational?
The Doctrine of Doing and Allowing
16. Ethical Pluralism: Prima Facie Duties and Ethical Particularism
Ross's Ethic of Prima Facie Duties
The Advantages of Ross's View
We Are Sometimes Permitted to Break the Moral Rules
Moral Conflict
Moral Regret
Addressing the Antiabsolutist Arguments
A Problem for Ross's View
Knowing the Fundamental Moral Rules
Self-Evidence and the Testing of Moral Theories
Knowing the Right Thing to Do
Ethical Particularism
Three Problems for Ethical Particularism
Its Lack of Unity
Accounting for Moral Knowledge
Some Things Possess Permanent Moral Importance
17. Virtue Ethics
The Standard of Right Action
Moral Complexity
Moral Understanding
Moral Education
The Nature of Virtue
Virtue and the Good Life
Tragic Dilemmas
Does Virtue Ethics Offer Adequate Moral Guidance?
Is Virtue Ethics Too Demanding?
Who Are the Moral Role Models?
Conflict and Contradiction
The Priority Problem
18. Feminist Ethics
The Elements of Feminist Ethics
Moral Development
Women's Experience
The Ethics of Care
The Importance of Emotions
Against Unification
Against Impartiality and Abstraction
Against Competition
Downplaying Rights
Challenges for Feminist Ethics
19. Ethical Relativism
Moral Skepticism
Two Kinds of Ethical Relativism
Some Implications of Ethical Subjectivism and Cultural Relativism
Moral Infallibility
Moral Equivalence
Questioning Our Own Commitments
Moral Progress
Ethical Subjectivism and the Problem of Contradiction
Cultural Relativism and the Problem of Contradiction
Ideal Observers
20. Moral Nihilism
Error Theory
How Is It Possible to Argue Logically about Morality?
Expressivism and Amoralists
The Nature of Moral Judgment
21. Eleven Arguments against Moral Objectivity
1. Objectivity Requires Absolutism
2. All Truth Is Subjective
3. Equal Rights Imply Equal Plausibility
4. Moral Objectivity Supports Dogmatism
5. Moral Objectivity Supports Intolerance
6. Moral Objectivity Cannot Allow for Legiti
7. Moral Disagreement Undermines Moral Objectivity
8. Atheism Undermines Moral Objectivity
9. The Absence of Categorical Reasons Undermines Moral Objectivity
10. Moral Motivation Undermines Moral Objectivity
11. Values Have No Place in a Scientific World
Suggestions for Further Reading

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