The Fundamentals of Ethics / Edition 2

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is truly an exceptional book. The writing is clean, accessible, and even fun to read! Students love it. We can get right into the issues at hand, with no time wasted trying to figure out what the author said/meant. This is hands-down the best introductory volume for undergraduate level ethics I have ever encountered."—Kelly Heuer, Georgetown University

"There is nothing that comes close in terms of accessibility. I have recommended this book to many a colleague. It's succinct and accessible without sacrificing the integrity of the arguments; it's a model of how to do—and write—good philosophy, it's inexpensive, and students actually seem to learn from it. What more could you ask for?"—Bob Fischer, Texas State University

"The greatest strength is the clarity of the writing. The relevant theories and concepts are presented in an accessible manner to students who have no background in philosophy. The ancillaries are fantastic. The text is clear, comprehensive, and inexpensive, with additional aids online that will assist students."—Darren Hibbs, Nova Southeastern University

"This book is excellent; thoughtful, clear, and pitched just right for our students. It is especially useful for students with little previous background in the formal study of ethics. I always use this text bundled with Shafer-Landau's The Ethical Life."—James Craig Hanks, Texas State University

"I have used this text the past two times that I've offered the course. It remains superior to Rachels. I have and will continue to recommend this book to colleagues. I would emphasize the use of arguments and the high quality of the writing. And the price."—Avery Kolers, University of Louisville

"I find this text to be much more useful than Rachels; it nicely combines philosophical sophistication with a clear, appropriate, and engaging writing style and an emphasis on critical reasoning. It comes with very helpful resources including excellent essay exam questions and short quiz checks for the students. It also provides useful discussion questions for each chapter."—Jacquelyn Ann K. Kegley, California State University, Bakersfield

"This marvelously clear book provides a thorough investigation of the most central issues in ethics. It's an ideal text for an undergraduate course in moral philosophy. I'm especially pleased with the resources available to students and faculty (e.g., study questions; chapter introductions and conclusions; exam questions/answer keys)." —Jesse Steinberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199773558
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2011
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 338
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Russ Shafer-Landau is Chair and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of several books including The Ethical Life, Third Edition (OUP, 2014), Reason and Responsibility, Fifteenth Edition (2013), and Ethical Theory: An Anthology, Second Edition (2012). He is also the editor of Oxford Studies in Metaethics.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Pt. 1 The Good Life 17

1 Hedonism: Its Powerful Appeal 18

2 Is Happiness All That Matters? 27

3 Getting What You Want 38

4 Problems for the Desire Theory 45

Pt. 2 Doing the Right Thing 57

5 Morality and Religion 58

6 Natural Law 71

7 Psychological Egoism 86

8 Ethical Egoism 100

9 Consequentialism: Its Nature and Attractions 112

10 Consequentialism: Its Difficulties 125

11 The Kantian Perspective: Fairness and Justice 144

12 The Kantian Perspective: Autonomy and Respect 158

13 The Social Contract Tradition: The Theory and Its Attractions 176

14 The Social Contract Tradition: Problems and Prospects 190

15 Ethical Pluralism and Absolute Moral Rules 202

16 Ethical Pluralism: Prima Facie Duties and Ethical Particularism 220

17 Virtue Ethics 240

18 Feminist Ethics 259

Pt. 3 The Status of Morality 275

19 Ethical Relativism 276

20 Moral Nihilism 292

21 Ten Arguments Against Moral Objectivity 305


Suggestions for Further Reading



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