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How do you know right from wrong? ETHICS: DISCOVERING RIGHT AND WRONG shows you how history's greatest thinkers have understood ethics and gives you the tools to decide for yourself what's moral and immoral. And, of course, along the way you'll master the basics of ethical philosophy.
Throughout this textbook on ethics, Pojman (philosophy, U.S. Military Academy, West Point) emphasizes the importance of the student developing his or her own moral theory. Some of the concepts explored include moral relativism and objectivism, altruism, utilitarianism, religion, and skepticism. An analysis of the modified divine command theory and suggestions for how to read and write a philosophy paper are contained in the appendices. The text may be used as a companion volume to Pojman's , 4th ed. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Louis P. Pojman (1935-2005) was Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, at the United States Military Academy and a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. He received an M.A. and Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary/Columbia University. He was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Copenhagen and a Rockefeller Fellow at Hamburg University. He received his D.Phil. in Philosophy from Oxford University in 1997.His first position was at the University of Notre Dame, after which he taught at the University of Texas at Dallas. Later, at the University of Mississippi, he served for three years as Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion. In 1995, he became Professor of Philosophy at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He most recently was Visiting Professor at Brigham Young University in Utah and Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall, Oxford University. Pojman won several research and teaching awards, including the Burlington Northern Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship (1988) and the Outstanding Scholar/Teacher in the Humanities at the University of Mississippi (1994). He wrote in the areas of philosophy of religion, epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy and authored or edited more than 30 books and 100 articles. Pojman passed away in 2005.
Preface. A Word to the Student: Why Study Moral Philosophy? 1. INTRODUCTION: WHAT IS ETHICS? Morality As Compared with Other Normative Subjects. Traits of Moral Principles. Domains of Ethical Assessment. Why Do We Need Morality? The Purposes of Morality. For Further Reflection. For Further Reading. 2. ETHICAL RELATIVISM: WHO'S TO JUDGE WHAT'S RIGHT AND WRONG? An Analysis of Relativism. Subjective Ethical Relativism (Subjectivism). Conventional Ethical Relativism (Conventionalism). A Critique of Ethical Relativism. For Further Reflection. For Further Reading. 3. THE CASE FOR MORAL OBJECTIVISM. Natural Law. Moderate Objectivism. An Explanation of the Attraction of Ethical Relativism. For Further Reflection. For Further Reading. 4. VALUE: THE QUEST FOR GOOD. What Types of Value Are There? What Things Are Good? Are Values Objective or Subjective? What is the Good Life? For Further Reflection. For Further Reading. 5. EGOISM, SELF-INTEREST, AND ALTRUISM. An Overview of the Problem. Psychological Egoism. Ethical Egoism. A Critique of Ethical Egoism. Attempted Refutations of Egoism. Evolution and Altruism. For Further Reflection. For Further Reading. 6. UTILITARIANISM. What is Utilitarianism? Two Types of Utilitarianism. The Strengths and Weaknesses of Utilitarianism. External Criticisms of Utilitarianism. Utilitarian Responses to Standard Objections. For Further Reflection. For Further Reading. 7. KANTIAN AND DEONTOLOGICAL SYSTEMS. Two Types of Deontological Systems. Kant's Rule-Deontological System. The Categorical Imperative. Kant's Other Formulations of the Categorical Imperative. Kant's Ethics and Religion. A Reconciliation Project. For Further Reflection. For Further Reading. 8. VIRTUE-BASED ETHICAL SYSTEMS. The Aretaic Critique of Action-Based (Deontic) Ethical Systems. The Nature of Virtue Ethics. Types of Relationships between Virtue Ethics and Action Ethics. For Further Reflection. For Further Reading. 9. WHY SHOULD I BE MORAL? The Paradox of Morality and Self-Interest. For Further Reflection. For Further Reading. 10. RELIGION AND ETHICS. Does Morality Depend on Religion? Is Religious Ethics Essentially Different from Secular Ethics? Is Religion Irrelevant or Even Inimical to Morality? Does Religion Enhance the Moral Life? For Further Reflection. For Further Reading. 11. THE FACT-VALUE PROBLEM: METAETHICS IN THE 20TH CENTURY. Nonnaturalism. Emotivism. Prescriptivism. The Renaissance of Naturalism. For Further Reflection. For Further Reading. 12. MORAL REALISM AND THE CHALLENGE OF SKEPTICISM. Mackie's Error Theory of Morality. Harman's Moral Nihilism. For Further Reading. A Concluding Reflection: Minimal Morality, Virtue Ethics, and the Development of Character. Appendix 1. An Analysis of the Modified Divine Command Theory. Appendix 2. How to Read and Write a Philosophy Paper. Glossary. Index.
Louis P. Pojman offers in 'Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong' a fascinating discussion about many aspects of ethics, ranging from definitions and principles to different ethics theories and their challenges to reflections about character development and tips for how to understand and communicate topics in philosophy. Pojman explains that moral philosophy - also known as ethics - is a branch of philosophy. In Chapter 1, Pojman characterizes the relationship among ethics, religion, law, and etiquette, and talks about the domains of ethical assessment (action, consequences, character, and motive). Chapter 2 is about the theory of ethical relativism, which holds that ‘there are no universally valid moral principles, but rather all moral principles are valid relative to culture or individual choice.’ Chapter 3 discusses moral objectivism. Pojman looks at natural law, and distinguishes between moral absolutism and moral objectivism. In Chapter 4, he describes value theory and discusses whether values are objective or subjective, analyzes the relation of value to morality, and looks at the ‘quest for the good.' In the fifth chapter, Pojman reviews various forms of egoism (e.g., psychological and ethical egoism) and analyzes the role of altruism. Chapter 6 is about utilitarianism, a theory which holds that ‘the right action is one that maximizes ultility’ (e.g., pleasure, ideals, interests). In the following chapter, Pojman provides an overview about Kantian and deontological ethics. He evaluates questions such as: What makes a right act right? What about situations of conflict? Can the good will have bad effects? In Chapter 8, Pojman discusses virtue-based ethics. He explains that virtues are essentially ‘excellences of character, trained behavioral dispositions that result in habitual acts.’ He distinguishes between moral and nonmoral virtues, and describes the ‘prima facie’ principle. In Chapter 9, Pojman asked: Why should I be moral? He analyzes the paradox of morality and self-interest. The tenth chapter is devoted to religion and ethics. Pojman examines whether moral standards themselves depend on God for their validity, or whether there is an autonomy of ethics, so that even God is subject to the moral order. Chapter 11 is about metaethics in the twentieth century. Pojman discusses nonnaturalism (and the renaissance of naturalism), emotivism, and prescriptivism. The final chapter (Chapter 12) is entitled ‘Moral Realism and the Challenge of Skepticism.’ Here, Pojman discusses questions such as: Are there moral facts? Can we trust them? He points out that the moral realist is essentially making a metaphysical claim about the ‘fabric of the universe.’ Each chapter ends with three sections called ‘Notes,’ ‘For Further Reflection,’ and ‘For Further Reading.’ At the end of the book, Pojman offers three additional (short) essays entitled ‘A Concluding Reflection: Minimal Morality, Virtue Ethics, and the Development of Character,’ ‘An Analysis of the Modified Divine Command Theory,’ and a guide for ‘How to Read and Write a Philosophy Paper,’ respectively. Finally, the book contains a glossary (which could have included more terms) and an index. In my opinion, Pojman did a superb job reviewing the various ethical theories in a way that they can be understood by a broad audience. I enjoyed following Pojman's thoughts and immersing myself into the world of moral philosophy, and reflecting upon my own moral compass.
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