Moral and Political Philosophy Key Issues, Concepts and Theories

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-06-15
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

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What is included with this book?


Paul Smith provides a clear and concise introduction to moral and political philosophy. His first four chapters consider arguments about controversial and topical practical issues -- drug laws, justifications of punishment, civil disobedience and whether there is a duty to obey the law, and global poverty. The next four chapters examine key concepts in moral and political theory -- liberty, reasons for laws that limit liberty (harm to others, offence, harm to self, and harmless wrongdoing) , rights, equality and social justice. Finally he provides incisive critical examinations of key moral and political theories -- moral relativism, utilitarianism, Kantian moral philosophy, and Rawls's theory of justice, together with libertarian and egalitarian criticisms of Rawls.

Author Biography

Paul Smith is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Cumbria, Lancaster, UK

Table of Contents

Prefacep. viii
Acknowledgementsp. ix
Drug Lawsp. 1
Arguments for a right to the freedom to use drugsp. 1
Arguments against a right to the freedom to use drugsp. 4
A utilitarian argument for prohibitionp. 11
A utilitarian argument against prohibitionp. 13
Justifications of Punishmentp. 19
Retributivismp. 20
Kant's retributivismp. 21
Kant's arguments for retributivismp. 22
Criticisms of retributivismp. 23
The utilitarian theory of punishmentp. 24
Criticisms of the utilitarian theory of punishmentp. 27
Attempts to reconcile retributivist and utilitarian justifications of punishmentp. 30
Civil Disobedience: Is There a Duty to Obey the Law?p. 33
Definitions and varieties of civil disobediencep. 33
Is there a duty to obey the law?p. 35
Justifications of civil disobediencep. 39
Global Povertyp. 45
Facts about global poverty and affluencep. 45
Is there a moral duty to help the distant poor?p. 46
Peter Singer's argument for a duty to help the distant poorp. 48
Global poverty as injusticep. 52
Libertyp. 58
John Stuart Mill on libertyp. 58
Contractualism and libertyp. 62
Which freedoms are especially important?p. 65
Analysing interpretations of liberty: how many concepts of liberty?p. 65
Competing conceptions of freedomp. 67
Freedom and the statep. 72
Liberty-limiting Principlesp. 75
Harm to othersp. 76
Offencep. 78
Harm to selfp. 80
Harmless wrongdoingp. 88
Public goodsp. 92
Social justicep. 93
Rightsp. 95
Some distinctions among rightsp. 97
The basis of moral rightsp. 100
Rights and right conductp. 101
Rights and dutiesp. 102
Human rightsp. 104
The importance of moral rightsp. 109
Criticisms of the idea of moral rightsp. 110
Equality and Social Justicep. 113
Equalityp. 113
Social justicep. 115
Which kinds of equality does social justice require?p. 116
Moral Relativismp. 129
The fact of moral diversityp. 129
Varieties of moral relativismp. 130
Arguments for moral relativismp. 132
Objections to moral relativismp. 135
Utilitarianismp. 143
Bentham's and Mill's utilitarianismp. 144
Varieties of contemporary utilitarianismp. 148
Attractions of utilitarianismp. 151
Utilitarianism, liberty, rights, equality and social justicep. 154
Objections to utilitarianismp. 161
Kantian Moral Philosophyp. 167
Moral duties are categorical imperativesp. 168
The Categorical Imperativep. 170
The Formula of Universal Lawp. 170
The Formula of Humanityp. 173
Kant and ordinary moral judgementsp. 178
Kant on lyingp. 179
Moral motivation as crucial, powerful, and inspiringp. 180
The sufficiency of moral motivation: ought implies canp. 182
Moral motivation and freedom of the willp. 183
John Rawls's Theory of Justicep. 185
Fundamental ideasp. 186
The principles of justicep. 190
Arguments for the principles of justicep. 193
Institutional and policy implications of the principles of justicep. 198
Criticisms of Rawls's contractual argumentp. 200
Nozick's libertarian rival to, and critique of, Rawls's theory of justicep. 201
Cohen's egalitarian critique of Rawls's theory of justicep. 205
Concluding Remarksp. 211
Notesp. 215
Referencesp. 241
Indexp. 251
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