Ethical Choices: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy with Cases

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Ideal for students with little or no background in philosophy, Ethical Choices: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy with Cases provides a concise, balanced, and highly accessible introduction to ethics. Featuring an especially lucid and engaging writing style, the text surveys a wide range of ethical theories and perspectives including consequentialist ethics, deontological ethics, natural and virtue ethics, the ethics of care, and ethics and religion. Each chapter of Ethical Choices also includes compelling case studies that are carefully matched with the theoretical material. Many of these cases address issues that students can relate directly to their own lives: the drinking age, student credit card debt, zero tolerance policies, grade inflation, and video games. Other cases discuss current topics like living wills, obesity, human trafficking, torture "lite," universal health care, and just-war theory. The cases provide students with practice in addressing real-life moral choices, as well as opportunities to evaluate the usefulness and applicability of each ethical theory. Every case study concludes with a set of Thought Questions to guide students as they reflect upon the issues raised by that case. Ethical Choices is enhanced by several pedagogical features. These include summaries at the end of each section, lists of key terms, questions For Reflection and Discussion at the end of each chapter, Guidelines for a Case Study Analysis, and suggestions For Further Reading that include Internet sources. Starred sections indicate more advanced material that may be included at the instructor's discretion. A companion website at contains additional resources for both students and instructors: chapter outlines, flashcards of key terms, sets of Helpful Hints to further aid students in mastering the material, and an additional chapter on our Moral Obligations Towards the Future.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The discussions of the standard arguments in moral theory are without exception clear and accurate. The case studies are engaging and will without a doubt be pedagogically useful. Students will be left with a profound sense of the complexity of moral reasoning."—Robert Talisse, Vanderbilt University

"This text is clearly superior . . . in nearly every respect. The authors' commitment to looking at each side of the issue is really quite impressive and exactly what is needed to develop our students' ability to think less one-sidedly. I would be quite likely to adopt this text. I, like many, have long-waited an alternative to Rachels: The Elements of Moral Philosophy. I believe that this may be it."—Sarah Black Jones, Northern Michigan University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195332957
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/9/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 91,757
  • Product dimensions: 6.18 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Burnor is Professor of Philosophy at Felician College. Dr. Burnor has also published articles in the philosophy of science, metaphysics, and teaching philosophy.

Yvonne Raley is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Felician College, and has published articles in metaphysics and ethics.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Instructor xiii

Guidelines for a Case Study Analysis xix

Introduction: On the Practical Importance of Ethics xxi

Part I Introducing Ethics 1

Chapter 1 The Nature of Morality 3

I What Is Ethics" 3

II Moral Claims 6

III Nonmoral Normative Claims 8

IV Characterizing Moral Claims 10

For Reflection and Discussion 12

Case 1 The Real Price of Coffee 13

Case 2 Jurassic Kitty: Should I Clone My Cat" 15

Chapter 2 Moral and Nonmoral Values 17

I The Role of Values 17

II Fundamental and Instrumental Values 19

III Explanation and Fundamental Values 21

For Reflection and Discussion 24

Values Exercise 25

Case 1 Mr. Research 26

Case 2 Sex Selection 27

Chapter 3 Personal Autonomy and Moral Agency 30

I Introduction 30

II Personal Autonomy 31

III Exercising Moral Agency 35

IV Value-Free and Value-Guided Autonomy** 39

For Reflection and Discussion 42

Case 1 Elizabeth Bouvia 43

Case 2 Should the Drinking Age Be Eighteen" 45

Case 3 The Living Will 46

Case 4 Buy Now, Pay Later: Student Credit Card Debt 49

Chapter 4 Moral Relativism 52

I Introduction 52

II The Claims of Moral Relativism 53

III Evaluating Subjectivism 55

IV Considerations in Support of Popular Relativism 57

V Arguments Against Relativism 60

VI A Matter of Tolerance 64

VII Can Moral Relativism Supply Something That Objectivism Cannot"** 66

For Reflection and Discussion 67

Case 1 Female Genital Mutilation 68

Case 2 Religious Exemption and the Death of Matthew Swan 70

Case 3 Women in the Middle East 72

Chapter 5 Moral Reasoning and Ethical Theories 74

I Introduction 74

II Moral Reasoning, Principles, and Judgments 74

III Fundamental Moral Principles 77

IV Ethical Theories and Their Assessment 80

For Reflection and Discussion 84

Case 1 Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner 85

Case 2 Who's Responsible for Obesity" 86

Part II A Survey of Ethical Theories and Perspectives 91

Chapter 6 Consequentialist Ethics: Egoism 93

I Introduction 93

II Hedonism and Consequentialism 95

III Utility and Mill's Account of Qualities 97

IV Ethical Egoism 100

V Psychological Egoism** 103

For Reflection and Discussion 106

Case 1 Human Trafficking 107

Case 2 Sponsoring a Child 109

Chapter 7 Consequentialist Ethics: Act Utilitarianism 110

I Introduction 110

II The Theory of Act Utilitarianism 111

III Considerations Supporting Act Utilitarianism 114

IV Problems with Act Utilitarianism 115

V Beyond Classical Utilitarianism** 120

For Reflection and Discussion 122

Case 1 Should Your Next Car Be a Hybrid" 124

Case 2 Factory Farming and the Suffering of Animals 125

Case 3 Torture Lite 127

Chapter 8 Consequentialist Ethics: Rule Utilitarianism 129

I Introduction 129

II Rule Utilitarianism 130

III Comparing Rule Utilitarianism and Act Utilitarianism 131

IV Problems with Rule Utilitarianism 134

V The Issue of Justice** 138

For Reflection and Discussion 140

Case 1 Zero-Tolerance Policies and Student Misconduct 141

Case 2 Curbing Grade Inflation 143

Case 3 Global Warming and Oil 144

Case 4 Stem Cells and Parkinson's Disease 146

Case 5 Universal Health Care 149

Chapter 9 Deontological Ethics 151

I Introduction 151

II Ross's Ethics 153

III Kant's Theory-The Good Will 156

IV Kant's Categorical Imperative: Principle of Ends 159

V Kant's Categorical Imperative: Principle of Universal Law 162

VI Kant's Categorical Imperative: Principle of Autonomy** 166

VII Criticisms of Kantian Ethics 167

For Reflection and Discussion 171

Case 1 A Demanding Honor Code 172

Case 2 The Ayala Case 174

Case 3 Internet Bride-Straight from Asia 175

Case 4 A Personal Decision 177

Case 5 Beefy Burgers and a Lean Future 179

Chapter 10 Natural Ethics: Natural Law and Natural Rights 181

I Introduction 181

II Natural Law Theory 181

III Addressing Moral Conflicts 184

IV Some Problems for Natural Law Theory 189

V Natural Rights 192

VI Some Distinctions** 194

VII Some Concerns with Rights 198

For Reflection and Discussion 201

Case 1 Relieving Pain in a Dying Patient 202

Case 2 Birth Control 203

Case 3 Locke and Load: Lockean Rights and Gun Control 205

Case 4 Just-War Theory and the Killing of Noncombatants 208

Case 5 Permanent Vegetative State: The Case of Terri Schiavo 211

Chapter 11 Virtue Ethics 214

I Introduction 214

II A Critique of Principle-Based Ethics 215

III The Heart of Virtue Ethics 218

IV Aristotle's Virtue Ethics 221

V Classifying the Virtues** 224

VI Criticisms of Virtue Ethics 227

For Reflection and Discussion 231

Case 1 Video Games 232

Case 2 Compulsive Gambling and the Internet 234

Case 3 The Unlikely Rescue 236

Case 4 Moral Luck 237

Chapter 12 The Ethics of Care 240

I Introduction 240

II The Development of Care Ethics 241

III Foundations for an Ethics of Care 246

IV Care Theory and Virtue Ethics 250

V A Blueprint for Reform 251

VI Objections and Problems 253

VII A Concluding Reflection 257

For Reflection and Discussion 257

Case 1 Parent Responsibility Toward Their In Utero Child 258

Case 2 The Nestlé Boycott 260

Case 3 Absolute Poverty 261

Chapter 13 Ethics and Religion 263

I Introduction 263

II The Autonomy Thesis and Religion** 265

III Divine Command Theory 268

IV An Alternate Dependency Account 269

V Objections and Elaborations** 272

VI The Alternate Dependency Account and Completeness** 276

For Reflection and Discussion 277

Case 1 Religious Symbols and Public Schools 277

Case 2 By Divine Command" 279

Case 3 A Question of Authority 280

Chapter 14 Ethics and Practice 283

I In Search of a Comprehensive Ethical Account 283

II The Practical Dimension: Making Moral Choices 286

For Reflection and Discussion 290

Case 1 Surfer, Sailor, Whistle Blower 291

Index 293

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