The Fundamentals of Ethics

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-08-28
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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In The Fundamentals of Ethics, 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, and moral error theory. 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, which offers original readings exploring the topics covered in The Fundamentals of Ethics.

Table of Contents

A Note on the Companion Volume
A Note to Readers
The Lay of the Land
Ethical Starting Points
Moral Reasoning
The Role of Moral Theory
Looking Ahead
The Good Life
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
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
Getting What You Want
A Variety of Good Lives
Personal Authority
Avoiding Objective Values
Justifying the Pursuit of Self-Interest
Knowledge of the Good
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
Passing Fancies
Ignorance of Desire Satisfaction
Impoverished Desires
The Paradox of Self-Harm and Self-Sacrifice
The Fallibility of Our Deepest Desires
Doing The Right Thing
Morality and Religion
Three Assumptions About Religion and Morality
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
Natural Law
The Theory and Its Attractions
Two Conceptions of Human Nature
Human Nature Is What Is Innately Human
Human Nature Is What All Humans Have in Common
Natural Purposes
The Argument from Humanity
Psychological Egoism
Egoism and Altruism
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
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 Assigns Priority to Self-Interest
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
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
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
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
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
It Explains and Justifies the Content of the Basic Moral Rules
It Offers a Method for Justifying Every Moral Rule
It Explains the Objectivity of Morality
It 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
The Social Contract Tradition: Problems and Prospects
Why Be Moral?
The Role of Consent
Disagreement Among the Contractors
The Scope of the Moral Community
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
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 Anti-Absolutist 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
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
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
The Status Of Morality
Ethical Relativism
Moral Skepticism
Two Kinds of Ethical Relativism
Some Implications of Ethical Subjectivism and Cultural Relativism
Moral Infallibility
Moral Equivalence
No Intrinsic Value
Questioning Our Own Commitments
Moral Progress
Contradiction and Disagreement
Ideal Observers
Moral Nihilism
Error Theory
How Is It Possible to Argue Logically about Morality?
Expressivism and Amoralists
The Nature of Moral Judgment
Ten Arguments Against Moral Objectivity
Objectivity Requires Absolutism
All Truth is Subjective
Equal Rights Entail Equal Plausibility
Moral Objectivity Supports Dogmatism
Moral Objectivity Supports Intolerance
Moral Disagreement Undermines Moral Objectivity
Atheism Undermines Moral Objectivity
The Absence of Categorical Reasons Undermines Moral Objectivity
Moral Motivation Undermines Moral Objectivity
Values Have No Place in a Scientific World
Suggestions for Further Reading
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