Life's Hardest Questions: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy / Edition 1

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This moral philosophy text with readings embraces Socrates' observation that ethics is "no small matter, but how we ought to live." How ought we to live? This hard question captures the full range of moral inquiry from traditional moral theory to contemporary moral issues, such as abortion, capital punishment, and war. But there is much more to moral philosophy: How should we be as people? When should we forgive? Are we capable of morality? What about non-western ethics? And most distressing of all, why be moral in the first place? These and other challenging questions show the profundity and inescapable importance of moral philosophy for a life worth living. Life's Hardest Questions combines lively and informative introductory discussions with classic and contemporary writings in moral philosophy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780072901085
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Higher Education
  • Publication date: 3/9/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 613,405
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Frederik Kaufman is a professor of philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Ithaca College, in Ithaca, NY. He has published articles in ethics, animal issues, environmental philosophy, and the metaphysics of death. In 2003 he published "Foundations of Environmental Philosophy with McGraw-Hill".

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Table of Contents

PART I. Foundations of Ethics

Chapter 1 What is Ethics?

Moral Relativism

The Point and Scope of Morality

Religion and Ethics

Philosophical Moral Deliberation

Chapter 2. Ethics and Consequences

The Role of Consequences in Ethics

John Stuart Mill, from Utilitarianism

Chapter 3. Kantian Ethics

The Role of Intentions in Ethics

Immanuel Kant, from The Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals

Chapter 4. Contract Ethics

How Ethics Could be Contractual

Thomas Hobbes, from The Leviathan

John Rawls, from A Theory of Justice

Chapter 5. Virtue Ethics

The Nature of Happiness: Human Excellences

Aristotle, from Nichomachean Ethics

Chapter 6. Natural Law Ethics

The Natural Law Tradition

St. Thomas Aquinas from Summa Theologica

Interlude: Reflections on theoretical disunity in ethics

Chapter 7. Abortion

Hard Question: Is Abortion a Moral Issue?

Two Conceptual Issues in Abortion: Murder and Mother

Judith Jarvis Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion"

Don Marquis, "Why Abortion is Immoral"

Chapter 8. Sex and Pornography

Hard Question: Is Pornography Immoral?

Ethics and Human Sexuality

Ann Garry, "Sex, Lies, and Pornography"

Burton Leiser, "Homosexuality and the Unnaturalness Argument"

Chapter 9. Euthanasia

Hard Question: Is Killing People Wrong?

Suicide and Euthanasia

James Rachels, "Active and Passive Euthanasia"

David Velleman, "A Right to Self-Termination"

Chapter 10. Capital Punishment

Hard Question: What is Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

Theories of Punishment

Hugo Adam Bedau, "An Abolitionist's Survey of the Death Penalty in America Today"

Luis Pojman, "Why the Death Penalty is Morally Permissable"

Chapter 11. War

Hard Question: Is War Ever the Answer?


Jeff McMahan, "Innocence, Self-Defense and Killing in War"

Michael Walzer, "Terrorism: A Critique of Excuses"

Chapter 12. Toleration

Hard question: Should We Tolerate Hate Speech on Campus?

Tolerating the Intolerable

Bernard Williams, "Toleration: An Impossible Virtue?"

T.M. Scanlon, "The Difficulty of Tolerance"

Chapter 13. Forgiveness

Hard Question: When Should We Forgive?

The Moral Logic of Forgiveness

Jeffrie Murphy, "Forgiveness and Resentment"

Norvin Richards, "Forgiveness"

Chapter 14. Animals

Hard Question: Should We Eat Animals?

Animals and Morality

Peter Singer, from Animal Liberation

Carl Cohen, "A Critique of the Alleged Moral Basis of Vegetarianism"

Chapter 15. Environmental Ethics

Hard Question: Ought We to Respect Nature?

Intrinsic Value and the Natural World

J. Baird Callicott, "Conceptual Foundations of the Land Ethic"

William Baxter, "The Case for Optimal Pollution"

Chapter 16. Global Ethics

Hard Question: Am I responsible for World Poverty?

Morality and Globalization

Peter Singer, from One World

Thomas Pogge, "World Poverty and Human Rights"

Chapter 17. Feminist Ethics

Hard Question: Are women from Venus and Men from Mars?

Feminist Ethics and Moral Philosophy

Nel Noddings, from Caring: A Feminine Approachto Ethics and Moral Education

Virginia Held, from Feminist Morality

Chapter 18. Metaethics

Hard Question: Could I Have Done Other than I Did?

Moral Responsibility

Moral Realism

Thomas Nagel, "Moral Luck"

J.L. Mackie, "The Subjectivity of Values"

Chapter 19. Challenges to Ethics

Hard Question: Why Be Moral?


Plato, from Republic

Nietzsche, from Beyond Good and Evil

Chapter 20. Non-Western Ethics

Hard Question: Is Ethics the Same Everywhere?

Two Non-Western Ethical Traditions: Buddhism and Confucianism

Buddhism Selections: "The Four Noble Truths," from the Dhammapada

Confucius, from the Analects

Amartya Sen, "Human Rights and Asian Values"


Etiquette and Ethics

A Hard Ethical Question: What Is Plagiarism and Why Is It Wrong?

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