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    Philosophical Ethics

    (2 reviews)

    George W. Matthews, Plymouth State University

    Copyright Year:

    Publisher: George W. Matthews

    Language: English

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    CC BY-SA


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    Reviewed by Amy Beaudry, Professor, Quinsigamond Community College on 6/30/21

    The information about Western philosophy in this textbook is adequate for a short ("crash course") introductory course on ethics. My main disappointment is about the lack of information about philosophers and diverse viewpoints; for example,... read more

    Reviewed by Donald LeBlanc, Adjunct Professor, Northern Essex Community College on 4/15/21

    The text covers the main areas of Ethics beginning with a useful discussion of logic and critical reasoning. The author discusses how arguments are analyzed and evaluated and then points out the most common types of fallacious reasoning... read more

    Table of Contents

    • I Some Preliminaries 
      • 1 The Examined Life
      • 2 A Little Bit of Logic 
      • 3 Fallacies and Biases 
    • II Ethics Culture and Religion 
      • 4 Relativism 
      • 5 Religion and Ethics
    • III Reconstructing Norms 
      • 6 Egoism
      • 7 Social Contract Theory
      • 8 Utilitarianism
      • 9 Kant and the ethics of duty
    • IV Applied Ethics 
      • 10 Theory in Practice
      • 11 Euthanasia 
      • 12 Liberty and its Limits 
      • 13 Crime and Punishment
      • 14 Animals and Ethics
      • 15 Ethics and the Environment 

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    About the Book

    This book is an introduction to philosophical ethics intended for use in introductory college or high school level courses. It has grown out of lecture notes I shared with the first students who took my online Ethics course at the Pennsylvania College of Technology almost 20 years ago. Since then it has seen more development in a variety of forms – starting out as a pdf document, and then evolving into a static set of WordPress pages and finally now as a book written in bookdown and hosted at GitHub. This text represents my attempt to scratch a couple of itches. The first is my wanting a presentation of the major philosophical approaches to ethics that I can actually agree with and that is integrated into my overall teaching method. I tend to teach philosophy to beginners and so there is a fair amount of discussion of the tools used by philosophers and of the ways in which their approach differs from that of their colleagues in other disciplines.

    There are of course many good quality ethics textbooks out there, and yet none has exactly matched my way of wanting to present the material. Teaching ethics over the years has been a process of active exploration and constant revision of my approach as I have come to a more nuanced and richer appreciation of what ethical thinking and theorizing is all about, as well as some ideas about how I think the main strands of argument relate to each other. Yes this is a partisan effort, but it’s all subject to revision and refinement based on, I hope at least, the better argument. That’s what I am trying to get across here.

    The second itch I am trying to scratch has to do with initiatives in open education, and I’d like this text to contribute in its own small way to the much larger and more influential open source movement and philosophy of which I consider it a part. Knowledge is only ours to share. Yes of course writers, developers and publishers do hard work that deserves compensation. But intellectual property, it seems to me, is a false idol that deserves to be smashed. So here is my effort to chip away at it – knowledge should free us and and not sink us into both literal and figurative debt.

    About the Contributors


    George Matthews is a philosophy professor who has always loved messing around with computers.

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