An exceptionally clear, compact, and affordable introduction to a broad range of ethical theories
In The Fundamentals of Ethics, Fifth 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.
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New to this EditionNearly thirty Cases for Critical Reflection, designed to stimulate further thought about the theories discussed in Parts 1 (The Good Life) and 2 (Normative Ethics)Chapter 12 now includes a separate discussion of the problem of free willA new Chapter 22, Is Moral Knowledge Possible? Five Skeptical Arguments, introduces moral skepticismSubstantial improvements to many sections, including "Happiness and Intrinsic Value" in Chapter 1; all three sections in Chapter 5; "Natural Purposes" in Chapter 6; and "Rule Consequentialism" in Chapter 10
About the Author(s)Russ Shafer-Landau is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of several books including Living Ethics (naipublishers.com, 2018) and The Ethical Life, Fourth Edition (naipublishers.com, 2017). He is also the editor of Oxford Studies in Metaethics.
"This is the best introductory ethics text on the market. I have been assigning it since 2009 and expect to do so for the foreseeable future. Its focus on constructing and evaluating arguments distinguishes it from competing volumes and helps new philosophy students quickly acclimate themselves to the field."--Robert M. Farley, Hillsborough Community College
"The Fundamentals of Ethics is a great introduction to ethics. Shafer-Landau introduces students to metaethics and individual moral theories. He also provides great use of philosophical arguments and terminology without being overly technical. Finally, the price is much lower than alternatives."--Hoon Lee, Triton College
"In The Fundamentals of Ethics, the essential arguments rise to the top and are easily consumed and digested. For a short introduction, the text is amazingly comprehensive in its coverage of the major moral theories. The writing style is the stand-out strength of the book."--Adam English, Campbell University
Table of ContentsPrefaceNew to the Fifth EditionInstructor"s Manual and Companion WebsiteA Note on the Companion VolumeAcknowledgmentsIntroductionA. The Lay of the LandB. Doubts about EthicsC. Ethical Starting PointsD. What Is Morality?E. Moral ReasoningF. The Role of Moral TheoryG. Looking AheadPART ONE: THE GOOD LIFEChapter 1. Hedonism: Its Powerful AppealA. Happiness and Intrinsic ValueB. The Attractions of Hedonism1. There Are Many Models of a Good Life2. Personal Authority and Well-Being3. Misery Clearly Hampers a Good Life; Happiness Clearly Improves It4. The Limits of Explanation5. Rules of the Good Life-and Their Exceptions6. Happiness Is What We Want forOur Loved OnesChapter 2. Is Happiness All That Matters?A. The Paradox of HedonismB. Evil PleasuresC. False HappinessD. The Importance of AutonomyE. Life"s TrajectoryF. Unhappiness as a Symptom of HarmG. ConclusionChapter 3. Getting What You WantA. A Variety of Good LivesB. Personal AuthorityC. Avoiding Objective ValuesD. MotivationE. Justifying the Pursuit of Self-InterestF. Knowledge of the GoodChapter 4.
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Problems for the Desire TheoryA. Getting What You Want May Not Be Necessary for Promoting Your GoodB. Getting What You Want May Not Be Sufficient for Promoting Your Good1. Desires Based on False Beliefs2. Disinterested and Other-Regarding Desires3. Disappointment4.Ignorance of Desire Satisfaction5. Impoverished Desires6. The Paradox of Self-Harm and Self-Sacrifice7. The Fallibility of Our Deepest DesiresC. ConclusionCases for Critical ReflectionPART TWO: NORMATIVE ETHICS: DOING THE RIGHT THINGChapter 5. Morality and ReligionA. First Assumption: Religious Belief Is Needed for Moral MotivationB. Second Assumption: God Is the Creator of MoralityC. Third Assumption: Religion Is an Essential Source of Moral GuidanceD. ConclusionChapter 6. Natural LawA. The Theory and Its AttractionsB. Three Conceptions of Human Nature1. Human Nature as Animal Nature2. Human Nature Is What Is Innate3. Human Nature Is What All Humans Have in CommonC. NaturalPurposesD. The Argument from HumanityE. ConclusionCases for Critical ReflectionChapter 7. Psychological EgoismA. Egoism and AltruismB. Does It Matter whether Psychological Egoism Is True?C. The Argument from Our Strongest DesiresD. The Argument from Expected BenefitE. Two Egoistic Strategies1. Appealing to the Guilty Conscience2. Expanding the Realm of Self-InterestF. Letting the Evidence DecideG. ConclusionChapter 8. Ethical EgoismA. Why Be Moral?B. Two Popular Arguments for Ethical Egoism1. The Self-Reliance Argument2. The Libertarian ArgumentC. The Best Argument for Ethical EgoismD. Three Problems for Ethical Egoism1. Egoism Violates Core Moral Beliefs2. Egoism CannotAllow for the Existence of Moral Rights3. Egoism Arbitrarily Makes My Interests All-ImportantE. ConclusionCases for Critical ReflectionChapter 9. Consequentialism: Its Nature and AttractionsA. The Nature of Consequentialism1. Its Structure2. Maximizing Goodness3. Moral Knowledge4. Actual Versus Expected Results5. Assessing Actions and IntentionsB. The Attractions of Utilitarianism1. Impartiality2. The Ability to Justify Conventional Moral Wisdom3. Conflict Resolution4. Moral FlexibilityC. The Scope of the Moral CommunityD. Slippery Slope ArgumentsChapter 10. Consequentialism: Its DifficultiesA. Measuring Well-BeingB. Utilitarianism Is Very Demanding1. Deliberation2.Motivation3. ActionC. ImpartialityD. No Intrinsic Wrongness (or Rightness)E. The Problem of InjusticeF. Potential Solutions to the Problem of Injustice1. Justice Is Also Intrinsically Valuable2. Injustice Is Never Optimific3. Justice Must Sometimes Be SacrificedG. Rule ConsequentialismH. ConclusionCases for Critical ReflectionChapter 11. The Kantian Perspective: Fairness and JusticeA. Consistency and FairnessB. The Principle of UniversalizabilityC. Morality and RationalityD. Assessing the Principle of UniversalizabilityE. IntegrityF. Kant on Absolute Moral DutiesChapter 12. The Kantian Perspective: Autonomy, Free Will, and RespectA. The Principle of HumanityB. The Importanceof Rationality and AutonomyC. The Problem of Free WillD. Four Problems with the Principle of Humanity1. Vagueness2. Determining Just Deserts3. Moral Luck4. The Scope of the Moral CommunityE. The Good Will and Moral WorthF. ConclusionCases for Critical ReflectionChapter 13. The Social Contract Tradition: The Theory and Its AttractionsA. The Lure of ProceduralismB. The Background of the Social Contract TheoryC. The Prisoner"s DilemmaD. Cooperation and the State of NatureE. The Advantages of Contractarianism1. Morality Is Essentially a Social Phenomenon2. Contractarianism Explains and Justifies the Content of the Basic Moral Rules3. Contractarianism Offers a Method for Justifying Every MoralRule4. Contractarianism Explains the Objectivity of Morality5. Contractarianism Explains Why It Is Sometimes Acceptable to Break the Moral RulesF. More Advantages: Morality and the Law1. Contractarianism Justifies a Basic Moral Duty to Obey the Law2. The Contractarian Justification of Legal Punishment3. Contractarianism Justifies the State"s Role in Criminal LawG. Contractarianism and Civil DisobedienceChapter 14. The Social Contract Tradition: Problems and ProspectsA. Why Be Moral?B. The Role of ConsentC. Disagreement among the ContractorsD. The Scope of the Moral CommunityE. ConclusionCases for Critical ReflectionChapter 15. Ethical Pluralism and Absolute Moral RulesA. The Structure of MoralTheoriesB. Is Torture Always Immoral?C. Preventing CatastrophesD. The Doctrine of Double Effect1. A Reply to the Argument from Disaster Prevention2. How the DDE Threatens Act Consequentialism3. Distinguishing Intention from ForesightE. Moral Conflict and ContradictionF. Is Moral Absolutism Irrational?G. The Doctrine of Doing and AllowingH. ConclusionCases for Critical ReflectionChapter 16. Ethical Pluralism: Prima Facie Duties and Ethical ParticularismA. Ross"s Ethic of Prima Facie DutiesB. The Advantages of Ross"s View1. Pluralism2. We Are Sometimes Permitted to Break the Moral Rules3. Moral Conflict4. Moral Regret?5. Addressing the Antiabsolutist ArgumentsC. A Problem for Ross"sViewD. Knowing the Fundamental Moral RulesE. Self-Evidence and the Testing of Moral TheoriesF. Knowing the Right Thing to DoG. Ethical ParticularismH. Three Problems for Ethical Particularism1. Its Lack of Unity2. Accounting for Moral Knowledge3. Some Things Possess Permanent Moral ImportanceI. Conclusion Cases for Critical ReflectionChapter 17. Virtue EthicsA. The Standard of Right ActionB. Moral ComplexityC. Moral UnderstandingD. Moral EducationE. The Nature of VirtueF. Virtue and the Good LifeG. Objections1. Tragic Dilemmas2. Does Virtue Ethics Offer Adequate Moral Guidance?3. Is Virtue Ethics Too Demanding?4. Who Are the Moral Role Models?5. Conflict andContradiction6. The Priority ProblemH. ConclusionCases for Critical ReflectionChapter 18. Feminist EthicsA. The Elements of Feminist EthicsB. Moral DevelopmentC. Women"s ExperienceD. The Ethics of Care1. The Importance of Emotions2. Against Unification3. Against Impartiality and Abstraction4. Against Competition5. Downplaying RightsE. Challenges for Feminist EthicsF. ConclusionCases for Critical ReflectionPART THREE: METAETHICS: THE STATUS OF MORALITYChapter 19. Ethical RelativismA. Doubts about Objective MoralityB. Two Kinds of Ethical RelativismC. Some Implications of Ethical Subjectivism and Cultural Relativism1. Moral Infallibility2. MoralEquivalence3. Questioning Our Own Commitments4. Moral Progress5. Ethical Subjectivism and the Problem of Contradiction6. Cultural Relativism and the Problem of ContradictionD. Ideal ObserversE. ConclusionChapter 20. Moral NihilismA. Error TheoryB. Expressivism1. How Is It Possible to Argue Logically about Morality?2. Expressivism and Amoralists3. The Nature of Moral JudgmentC. ConclusionChapter 21. Eleven Arguments against Moral ObjectivityA. Objectivity Requires AbsolutismB. All Truth Is SubjectiveC. Equal Rights Imply Equal PlausibilityD. Moral Objectivity Supports DogmatismE. Moral Objectivity Supports IntoleranceF. Moral Objectivity Cannot Allow for Legitimate CulturalVariationG. Moral Disagreement Undermines Moral ObjectivityH. Atheism Undermines Moral ObjectivityI. The Absence of Categorical Reasons Undermines Moral ObjectivityJ. Moral Motivation Undermines Moral ObjectivityK. Values Have No Place in a Scientific WorldL. ConclusionChapter 22. Is Moral Knowledge Possible? Five Skeptical ArgumentsA. The Skeptical Argument from DisagreementB. CertaintyC. Who"s To Say?D. Irrelevant InfluencesE. Hume"s ArgumentF. ConclusionReferencesSuggestions for Further ReadingGlossaryIndex