Conditions of Use
Most of the ethical theories that you would want for an intro to ethical theory course are here. Relativism and subjectivism, divine command theory and natural law theory, virtue ethics, social contract theory and egoism, utilitarianism, Kant,... read more
Most of the ethical theories that you would want for an intro to ethical theory course are here. Relativism and subjectivism, divine command theory and natural law theory, virtue ethics, social contract theory and egoism, utilitarianism, Kant, feminist ethics, and evolutionary ethics. It would be nice to have a few newer options, but these are generally the theories discussed. This book doesn't go very deep, but it is appropriate for a beginning ethics course.
I found the chapters and examples to be accurate and work with the theories.
A great part of books of this type (open textbooks) and this project in general is that it can be changed. Most of the text won't be outdated as it has early philosophers to a bit more contemporary.
I find the book to be clearly written and accessible. The organization lends to the clarity. Also, this book is pretty straightforward in the way ideas are presented, which also helps.
There are many different authors here, but they are pretty consistent in the way they present ideas and use terms.
Some of the theories could have been organized differently for better modularity. For example, consequentialist theories together and deontological theories together.
As stated above, I would have organized these chapters differently, but they built off each other well and the organization works.
The is easy to navigate. There could be more images.
Not many grammatical errors.
Not a lot of diversity in the voices. As I mentioned before, there could be more contemporary ideas in ethics, but these are generally the ones covered in an intro.
Some primary texts might be nice. Students can read about the theories in the ethicists own words. I'm looking for an intro to ethics books for the first half of my ethics courses. I will likely use some of these chapters to introduce the ideas.
This book contains the key topics in the appropriate depth suitable for a lower-level introduction to ethics course. The coverage of subjectivism, relativism, and divine command theory provide the necessary early discussions which lay the... read more
This book contains the key topics in the appropriate depth suitable for a lower-level introduction to ethics course. The coverage of subjectivism, relativism, and divine command theory provide the necessary early discussions which lay the foundation for later discussions. The explanations of concepts are very clear without becoming overly technical and long. The section on virtue ethics appropriately included eastern theories and Thomas Aquinas’ and Aristotle’s views.
The lack of applied ethics discussions on abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, and so forth was a slight disappointment. For this reason, I had to add another book to my course. Moreover, some chapters would have benefitted from including popular counterexamples to the theories. Students enjoy these, and they help to clarify how the theory works.
The content and accuracy of the discussions rank high. The examples lend themselves to a clear understanding. I have used this book for over two semesters, and I find that students understand the views well.
The relevance of topics is enduring and important, with ancient philosophy to modern views being included. However, it would be good for this book to include various discussions which refocus traditional topics from a contemporary perspective.
I chose this book for my courses because of the clarity of writing and organization of concepts. This is one of the strengths of the book.
Consistency along the parameters of concepts discussed, language, organization, tone, and depth of discussion is very good.
The various sections and sub-discussions are appropriate, and I did not find any issues. I reorganize the discussions in my course, so this did not hinder my use of the text.
Beginning with metaethics is excellent and I was glad to see the more modern approaches such as feminist and evolutionary ethics at the end. Again, the classical views are important, and the discussions build on each other.
I found no issues with the interface.
Very few grammatical errors were found in the text. The text overall is well-edited for organization and grammar.
The greatest weakness of the book has to do with its lack of diverse voices. More discussions from philosophers of color, issues of environmental ethics, and social justice would have strengthened this book's offerings.
Review questions at the end of each article would have made this a better book.
it covers the major theories of ethical reasoning but does not discuss some variants of the major theories and relies on definitions and examples which are often either chosen for their simplicity, ordinariness or laughable quality -- I found it... read more
it covers the major theories of ethical reasoning but does not discuss some variants of the major theories and relies on definitions and examples which are often either chosen for their simplicity, ordinariness or laughable quality -- I found it hard to take them seriously and to imagine that I would use them as discussion points. I also found that there was a tendency to emphasize religious interpretations at the cost of some general accuracy and explanation of the theories
The introduction to the book is not written in a compelling manner and is often confusing – I am not a philosopher bu I am familiar with ethical theories but the short overviews of each chapter made the theories sound unfamiliar to me; Chapter 1 is a confusing yet simplistic version of ethical relativism and metaethics which I did not know were the same thing (generally they are not treated that way) although this chapter makes them equivalent; I am not familiar with DCT but she tends to explain it in terms of other theories that haven’t been introduced yet in the book and since I am reading a pdf version I can't use links although I don't recall that this chapter had any; ; it is fortunate that I would be able to skip this chapter if I used the book; Virtue ethics chapter is interesting with its examples of how virtue ethics differs from one religion to another; yet it doesn’t include the definition I am most familiar with and tend to use in my classes; Many of the examples are clearly made up and in some cases hard to take seriously; The chapter on deontology said nothing about deontology; Kant is important but deontology is not the theory that was described
I think the pronouns need to be updated and the examples need to be more relevant to the current world
the language is generally clear (with the exception of the overall introduction and some of the chapters) but the avoidance of terminology should not mean the avoidance of intelligent dialogue and meaningful examples
most of the writers use the same simplified (or simplistic, as I imagine my students would say) language and rely on made up scenarios
it could be divided by chapters but some of the authors refer to later chapters in the book without explaining those concepts, and that would work against modularity
I can't think of alternative ways to organize this type of text although perhaps a conclusion which actually included application examples might be valuable
can't evaluate completely since the links in the text did not work for my download; however, I can comment on the illustrations of the people associated with the theories -- why??? a picture of a philosopher doesn't really explain the theory; I like illustrations but they were unnecessary here; in contrast, charts and tables and bulleted summaries might have been helpful; there is no index
there were a few in the introduction; perhaps they were style things rather than grammar but I stopped a few times to ask myself what he was trying to say
reasonable except for pronouns and perhaps gender relevance
I am especially looking for an ethics book that has contemporary examples related to the world of art and the art market; not found here; I will continue to use the ethics text that I have been using already as I like the writing style and the accompanying power points from that better than this book; free is good b but doesn't compensate for a text that overall is flat and mediocre
The textbook offers an effective survey of meta-ethical theory, and it presents remarkably clear summaries of the major ideas of many of the thinkers whose work has contributed to the development of moral philosophy. While each chapter includes... read more
The textbook offers an effective survey of meta-ethical theory, and it presents remarkably clear summaries of the major ideas of many of the thinkers whose work has contributed to the development of moral philosophy. While each chapter includes helpful definitions of key terms, a discrete index and glossary would be a helpful addition.
The content is delivered in a cool, scholarly manner, and the text is generally readable and neatly proofread. The biases, such as they are, are mostly acknowledged, although more direct engagement with non-Western critics of the philosophical tradition would add credibility and interest to the wide-ranging discussions.
The historical scope of the project--ranging from Plato down to a variety of 21st-century philosophers--increases the likelihood that the book will remain relevant for the foreseeable future. Moreover, the useful foundation in meta-ethical theory that the textbook provides ensures that, even as the field changes and new views reshape our understanding of previous positions, IP: E could be refreshed and expanded easily.
Given its necessarily technical nature, IP: E is laudably readable and light on potentially off-putting jargon. Major ideas are presented in straightforward, accessible language that nevertheless gives the student the technical vocabulary required to understand and conduct arguments in a specialized branch of philosophy.
The tone, language, and overall presentation are generally consistent and inviting to the serious reader.
Chapters complement each other and each is divided ("chunked") into sections a prof might easily give as standalone reading assignments. Whether it might be presented in a variety of different orders--"reorganized and realigned with various subunits," etc.--would seem to depend on the cleverness of the teacher tasked with presenting the material
The progression from relativism and religion to feminism and evolution works well, and there's a largely implicit suggestion that the latter two approaches serve as correctives to or complications of the thought that comes before. This seems like a reasonable--and possibly inevitable--approach to a broad historical as well as theoretical survey.
The book is easy to navigate, the images load quickly and display clearly, and even the clickable footnotes work well. More images would be welcome throughout.
The text is clean and readable, free of distracting typos and grammatical problems.
An additional chapter that sets out some of the more recent critiques of traditional European moral philosophy would be useful. In particular, developments in postcolonial and queer theory would be worth including, not least because they call attention to shortcomings in the universalist assumptions that often underwrite much of academic philosophy, however brilliantly and persuasively articulated.
Perhaps it would be for another book altogether--maybe a companion reader--but a compilation of primary sources referenced in the textbook would be quite valuable. That is, brief excerpts from, e.g, Plato, Kant, Mill, etc., that set out, in the thinkers' original words, the big ideas described in these pages would make a very handy resource.
Table of Contents
- 1. Aren’t Right and Wrong Just Matters of Opinion? On Moral Relativism and Subjectivism
- 2. Can We Have Ethics without Religion? On Divine Command Theory and Natural Law Theory
- 3. How Can I Be a Better Person? On Virtue Ethics
- 4. What’s in it for Me? On Egoism and Social Contract Theory
- 5. Utilitarianism
- 6. Kantian Deontology
- 7. Feminism and Feminist Ethics
- 8. Evolutionary Ethics
About the Book
We often make judgments about good and bad, right and wrong. Philosophical ethics is the critical examination of these and other concepts central to how we evaluate our own and each others’ behavior and choices.
This text examines some of the main threads of discussion on these topics that have developed over the last couple of millenia, mostly within the Western cultural tradition. It considers basic questions about moral and ethical judgment: Is there such a thing as something that is really right or really wrong independent of time, place and perspective? What is the relationship between religion and ethics? How can we reconcile self-interest and ethics? Is it ever acceptable to harm one person in order to help others? What do recent discussions in evolutionary biology or have to say about human moral systems? What is the relation between gender and ethics? The authors invite you to participate in their exploration of these and many other questions in philosophical ethics.
About the Contributors
George Matthews (book editor) studied philosophy at Pratt Institute, where he also earned a BFA in Sculpture, at Hunter College, Loyola University of Chicago, and The Pennsylvania State University, where he earned his Doctorate in Philosophy for work on German Idealism. He currently teaches philosophy in person at Plymouth State University and online at Pennsylvania College of Technology. His research and teaching interests are in ethics, social and political philosophy, environmental philosophy, philosophy of mind and the philosophical and psychological study of rationality and irrationality. He remains a life-long student, having recently become a formal student in the Mountains and Rivers Order in the Soto lineage of Zen Buddhism. His extra-philosophical pursuits also include gardening, cooking, and wandering and climbing in the mountains.
Christina Hendricks (series editor) is a Professor of Teaching in Philosophy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada, where she often teaches Introduction to Philosophy courses. She is also the and also the Academic Director of the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (2018-2023). Christina has been an open education researcher and advocate for a number of years, having been a BCcampus Open Textbook Fellow, an OER Research Fellow with the Open Education Group, the Creative Commons Canada representative to the CC Global Network, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Legal Information Institute.