Moral Theory / Edition 1

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What makes an action right or wrong? Why is something good or bad? How does one make moral decision about what is right and good? These are among the main questions in ethics that are the subject of moral theory. This book explores some of the most historically important and currently debated moral theories about the nature of the right and good. After introducing students in the first chapter to some of the main aims and methods of evaluating a moral theory, the remaining chapters in this book are devoted to an examination of various moral theories including the divine command theory, moral relativism, natural law theory, Kant's moral theory, moral pluralism, virtue ethics and moral particularism. Providing an introduction to moral theory that explains and critically examines the theories of such classical moral philosophers as Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Bentham, Mill and Ross, this book acquaints students with the work of contemporary moral philosophers.
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Editorial Reviews

A first-rate text for anyone interested in an introduction to moral theory.
Basing the contents on lectures delivered over the years in upper- level undergraduate courses, Timmons (philosophy, U. of Memphis) presents an intermediate-level introduction to moral theory<-->more complex than what is offered in introductory ethics texts, but more accessible than advanced research texts. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Ted A. Warfield
I will be adopting Mark Timmons's Moral Theory. Moral Theory is an outstanding book for my course in ethical theory.
Brad Hooker
It is hard to imagine how anyone could write a better survey of normative moral theory than does Mark Timmons in Moral Theory: An Introduction.
Prakash Chenjen
An ideal introduction to the first-time moral theory student. Mark Timmons balances accessibility with depth. Moral Theory is an excellent preparatory reading for anyone interested in the complexities of modern moral theory. Timmons deserves high praise.
Russ Shafer-Landau
Mark Timmons has produced a first-rate introduction to moral philosophy. He manages to present a very broad range of material in an exceptionally clear and fair-minded way. He has covered all of the important bases, and done so by incorporating reference to the best of the recent literature in the areas he has covered. The many topical examples and accessible style make this an ideal source for students who want a rigorous introduction to the central philosophical issues concerning right and wrong.
William Tolhurst
Mark Timmons's Moral Theory: An Introduction is a first-rate critical overview of nine important approaches to moral theory. It is remarkably clear and accessible to undergraduates with no prior experience of philosophy and sufficiently deep to be of use to graduate students preparing for a comprehensive exam in ethics. The author's assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the theories is insightful and scrupulously fair.
Mark Decker
" I believe that it is the best introduction to normative ethics available. Part of what makes the book so good is that it focuses on normative ethics, letting meta-ethical questions come in only as necessary. Many of the existing introductions to moral theory don't make the distinctions clear enough—this is the text I've been looking for! My students enjoyed it as well."
Rev. Professor Blaine O'Connor
A fine and reliable text in this area of philosophy.
Robert Kane
Moral Theory is one of my favorite texts for undergraduates. The usual Kantian and Utilitarian material is exceptionally well done, especially splitting the latter into classical and contemporary theories. And the treatment of such other theories as Divine Command, Natural Law, Moral Pluralism and Particularism is something one rarely gets in other texts with such depth and yet readability, if at all.
David Horner
Finally! I've been waiting for an introduction to ethical theory that my students and I would love—one that is interesting and well-written, but is also accurate and insightful, and models good philosophy. Mark Timmons's Moral Theory: An Introduction is all this and more. Not only is Timmons's treatment as a whole rich, clear, and illuminating, but I consider the individual chapters themselves to be among the best stand-alone treatments of their particular subject matters available. Timmons covers a particularly wide range of topics, including significant accounts of Divine Command Theory, Natural Law theory, and moral particularism, and he is remarkably thorough and fair in his treatment of each position. I have gained new appreciation and respect for several moral theories through reading this book. I strongly recommend it as an introductory text for undergraduates, but , because of its scope, clarity, and accuracy, it is an excellent resource for 'seasoned veterans' of ethical theory as well.
A first-rate text for anyone interested in an introduction to moral theory.
Mark Timmons's Moral Theory is one of the best ethics textbooks in existence: clear, careful, non-superficial, erudite, systematic, wide-ranging, organized, and fair. . . . I recommend it unhesitatingly for upper division undergraduate courses in ethical theory. I also recommend it as a reference for teachers and graduate students of philosophy.
Philosophical Books
This is a comprehensive introduction to moral theory. It is well-conceived, well-written, and well-reasoned.
Faith and Mission
Mark Timmons has provided a service to the field of ethics. He has created an introductory text that challenges the mind.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847697694
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/2002
  • Series: Elements of Philosophy Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 302
  • Sales rank: 840,270
  • Product dimensions: 0.68 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Timmons is professor of philosophy at the University of Memphis and author of Morality without Foundations (Oxford, 1999). He has published extensively in the areas of ethics and moral theory.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
1 An Introduction to Moral Theory 1
2 Divine Command Theory 23
3 Moral Relativism 37
4 Natural Law Theory 65
5 Classical Utilitarianism 103
6 Contemporary Utilitarianism 131
7 Kant's Moral Theory 151
8 Moral Pluralism 189
9 Virtue Ethics 211
10 Moral Particularism 245
11 Conclusion 267
Appendix Standards for Evaluating Moral Theories 271
Glossary 273
References 281
Index 285
About the Author 291
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