Philosophical Ethics

Philosophical Ethics

Philosophical Ethics

Philosophical Ethics


Philosophical Ethics introduces students to ethics from a distinctively philosophical perspective, one that weaves together central ethical questions such as "What has value?" & "What are our moral obligations?" with fundamental philosophical issues such as "What is value?" & "What can a moral obligation consist in?" Throughout, the reader is invited to do-rather than just read about-philosophical ethics &, in doing so, to think through questions that face all thoughtful human beings. Themes include the nature of value & moral obligation, freedom & choice, human flourishing, excellence & merit, radical critiques of morality, & the importance of relationships for human life. Contents: INTRODUCTION. What Is Philosophical Ethics? METAETHICS. Metaethics: The Basic Question. Naturalism. Theological Voluntarism. Rational Noncognitivism. Interlude. PHILOSOPHICAL MORALISTS. Hobbes I. Hobbes II. Mill I. Mill II. Kant I. Kant II. PHILOSOPHICAL ETHICS WITHOUT MORALITY? Nietzsche. Aristotle I. Aristotle II. Ethics of Care.


This book is intended for use in undergraduate courses in ethics that approach the subject from a philosophical perspective. I have taught much of this material over the past thirteen years in an introductory ethics course for students with some prior philosophy. But the book may also prove useful in a second course for students whose first ethics course was less philosophically intensive.

I have sought to anchor issues in the context of contemporary debates as well as the enduring works of Western ethical philosophy: Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics, Hobbes Leviathan, Kant Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Mill Utilitarianism, and Nietzsche Genealogy of Morals. Although reference to these works is not crucial, the book is likeliest to be effective in conjunction with substantial selections of at least some of them. All are widely available in various editions. Electronic versions can be accessed through my Web page:

In coming to the ideas expressed here, I have had the great benefit of learning from many students, both here at the University of Michigan and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and from many colleagues, including Elizabeth Anderson, Richard Brandt, Sarah Conly, Allan Gibbard, Arthur Kuflik, Adrian Piper, Jerry Postema, Peter Railton, Don Regan, Laurence Thomas, Gregory Velazco y Trianosky, David Velleman, Nicholas White, and the late Jane English, W. D. Falk, and William Frankena. I am indebted also to my former teachers Kurt Baier and J. B. Schneewind.

Michael Slote and Don Loeb read the manuscript for Westview and provided many useful suggestions. Sarah Warner and Melanie Stafford of Westview helped greatly with the production process, and Christine Arden gave invaluable editorial advice. Finally, I thank Spencer Carr for his persistence in convincing me to write this book and his generosity in allowing me so much time to do it.

Stephen Darwall Ann Arbor, Michigan . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.