Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature / Edition 3

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Ideal for introductory ethics courses, The Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature, Fifth Edition, brings together an extensive and varied collection of ninety-one classical and contemporary readings on ethical theory and practice. Integrating literature with philosophy in an innovative way, this unique anthology uses literary works to enliven and make concrete the ethical theory or applied issues addressed. It also emphasizes the personal dimension of ethics, which is often ignored or minimized in ethics anthologies. The readings are enhanced by chapter introductions, study questions, suggestions for further reading, and biographical sketches.

The fifth edition adds ten new readings, eight of which appear in two new chapters: Feminist Ethics and the Ethics of Care and Global Economic Justice. An updated Companion Website at provides self-quizzes, essay questions, and helpful links for students and reading summaries, a test bank, and PowerPoint-based lecture slides for instructors.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The Moral Life is the best book I've ever used to teach introductory moral philosophy, anywhere. In fact, it is quite common for my students to report to me that they have kept the book after the course has ended because they are fascinated by the various readings."--Neil Delaney, University of Notre Dame

"Enticing, fresh, and classic."--Annette Mendola, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

"An incredible book. I would use no other. Students love it as much as I do."--Patricia Wheeler, Woodland Community College

"The organization is stellar and the selections are extremely unique. The test bank is truly incredible." --Charles J. Horn, University of Kentucky

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195308518
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/22/2006
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 1024
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

The late Louis P. Pojman was Professor of Philosophy at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is the author or editor of more than thirty books including Classics of Philosophy, Third Edition (OUP, 2010).

Lewis Vaughn is the author or coauthor of several books including Bioethics, Second Edition, and Contemporary Moral Arguments, Second Edition, both published in 2012 by Oxford University Press.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: On the Nature of Morality 1
Pt. I The Nature of Morality: Good and Evil 5
1 What Is the Purpose of Morality? 7
William Golding: Lord of the Flies: A Moral Allegory 8
Louis P. Pojman: On the Nature and Purpose of Morality: Reflections on William Golding's Lord of the Flies 31
Thomas Hobbes: On the State of Nature 41
2 Good and Evil 54
Herman Melville: Billy Budd 57
Fyodor Dostoevsky: Why Is There Evil? 69
William Styron: Sophie's Choice 75
Kevin Bales: The New Slavery 83
Philip Hallie: From Cruelty to Goodness 93
Stanley Benn: Wickedness 108
Friedrich Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil 127
Richard Taylor: On the Origin of Good and Evil 141
3 Is Everything Relative? 155
Herodotus: Custom Is King 156
Ruth Benedict: The Case for Moral Relativism 157
Louis P. Pojman: The Case Against Moral Relativism 166
Jean Bethke Elshtain: Judge Not? 191
Henrick Ibsen: The Enemy of the People 201
Pt. II Moral Theories and Moral Character 223
4 Utilitarianism 227
Seaman Holmes and the Longboat of William Brown, Reported by John William Wallace 229
Jeremy Bentham: Classical Utilitarianism 231
Kai Nielsen: A Defense of Utilitarianism 237
Bernard Williams: Against Utilitarianism 252
Ursula Le Guin: The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas 265
Aldous Huxley: The Utilitarian Social Engineer and the Savage 272
5 Deontological Ethics 295
Immanuel Kant: The Moral Law 297
W. D. Ross: Intuitionism 317
R. M. MacIver: The Deep Beanty of the Golden Rule 332
Richard Whatley: A Critique of the Golden Rule 337
Ambrose Bierce: A Horseman in the Sky 340
Charles Fried: The Evil of Lying 346
Susan Glaspell: A Jury of Her Peers 356
Plato: Does Morality Depend on Religion? 370
Thomas Nagel: Moral Luck 374
6 Virtue Ethics 388
Victor Hugo: The Bishop and the Candlesticks 390
Aristotle: Virtue Ethics 407
Bernard Mayo: Virtue and the Moral Life 423
Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Great Stone Face 429
William Frankena: A Critique of Virtue-Based Ethical Systems 447
7 Virtues and Vices 459
Jesus of Nazareth: The Sermon on the Mount; The Good Samaritan 460
Leo Tolstoy: How Much Land Does a Man Need? Greed 464
Immanuel Kant: Jealousy, Malice, and Ingratitude 478
Martin Gansberg: Moral Cowardice 486
Helen Keller: Three Days to See: Gratitude 490
Epictetus and Others: The Stoic Catechism 500
Plutarch: In Consolation to His Wife: Equanimity 512
Vice Admiral James Stockdale: The World of Epictetus: Courage and Endurance 521
The Story of David and Bathsheba: Lust 535
Leo Tolstoy: Where Love Is, There Is God: Love 539
Bertrand Russell: Reflections on Suffering 544
Charles Colson: The Volunteer at Auschwitz: Altruism 550
Pt. III Moral Issues 557
8 Ethics and Egoism: Why Should We Be Moral? 559
Plato: The Ring of Gyges 561
Ayn Rand: In Defense of Ethical Egoism 569
Louis P. Pojman: Egoism and Altruism: A Critique of Ayn Rand 580
James Rachels: A Critique of Ethical Egoism 588
9 Does Life Have Meaning? 604
Voltaire: The Good Brahmin 606
Epicurus: Hedonism 609
Albert Camus: Life Is Absurd 616
Lois Hope Walker: Religion Gives Meaning to Life 623
Viktor Frank: The Human Search for Meaning: Reflections on Auschwitz 630
Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha: The Four Noble Truths 638
Robert Nozick: The Experience Machine 644
10 Freedom, Autonomy, and Self-Respect 648
Martin Luther King, Jr.: I Have a Dream 649
Maya Angelou: Graduation 653
Stanley Milgram: An Experiment in Autonomy 666
Jean-Paul Sartre: Existentialism Is a Humanism 681
Thomas E. Hill, Jr.: Servility and Self-Respect 691
John Benson: Who Is the Autonomous Man? 703
Kurt Vonnegut: Harrison Bergeron 719
Pt. IV Allied Ethics: Moral Problems 727
11 Sex, Love, and Marriage 729
John Barth: Pansexuality 731
Immanuel Kant: On the Place of Sex in Human Existence 732
John McMurtry: Monogamy: A Critique 735
Michael D. Bayles: Marriage, Love, and Procreation: A Critique of McMurtry 746
Bonnie Steinbock: What's Wrong with Adultery? 760
C. S. Lewis: We Have No "Right to Happiness" 767
Hugh LaFollette: Licensing Parents 772
12 Is Abortion Morally Permissible? 787
John T. Noonan, Jr.: Abortion Is Not Morally Permissible 789
Mary Anne Warren: Abortion Is Morally Permissible 797
Jane English: The Moderate Position: Beyond the Personhood Argument 806
13 Substance Abuse: Drugs and Alcohol 818
John Stuart Mill: On Liberty 820
Gore Vidal: Drugs Should Be Legalized 824
William Bennett: Drugs Should Not Be Legalized 827
Yoshida Kenko: On Drinking 833
Bonnie Steinbock: Drunk Driving 836
14 Our Duties to Animals 850
George Orwell: Shooting an Elephant 852
Immanuel Kant: We Have Only Indirect Duties to Animals 859
Peter Singer: Animal Liberation: All Animals Are Equal 861
Carl Cohen: The Case Against Animal Rights 878
15 Our Duties to the Environment 885
Sophocles: On Mankind's Power over Nature 891
Robert Heilbroner: What Has Posterity Ever Done for Me? 892
Garrett Hardin: The Tragedy of the Commons 897
William F. Baxter: People or Penguins: The Case for Optimal Pollution 915
16 International Justice and the Threat of Terrorism 924
God's Command to Destroy Jericho and Ai 931
Martha C. Nussbaum: Compassion and Terror 937
Louis P. Pojman: The Cosmopolitan Response to Terrorism 962
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