A Modern Introduction to Ethics

A Modern Introduction to Ethics

A Modern Introduction to Ethics

A Modern Introduction to Ethics

Excerpt

When a new textbook appears in a given field, it can be assumed that the writer regards his own treatment of the subject matter as somehow distinctive or especially useful. Perhaps the feature that most distinguishes the present text is its attempt to approach the problems of ethics by what may be called the pathway of skepticism. To those who may question whether the student can best be helped to achieve a satisfactory ethical philosophy by having his every conviction challenged at the outset, or his mind thrown into a condition of radical doubt, it may be replied that unless he scrutinizes his convictions with care and candor somewhere along the way, he cannot really hold them intelligently or, in consequence, effectively.

In any event, the "skeptical" approach is not adopted in this book with the purpose of dispelling convictions. Rather it is adopted as a means of "getting outside" of one's convictions, at least temporarily, for the sake of understanding them and perceiving how they are grounded. Nietzsche gave an extreme and characteristically epigrammatic expression of this purpose when he remarked, "We can only judge morality by becoming immoral."

One hardly need point out that this approach does not ask the beginning student of ethics to consider the advisability of committing an act which he would term immoral--robbing a bank, for example. What it does suggest is that he may attain ethical wisdom by reckoning with his reasons for regarding bank-robbery and certain other modes of conduct as morally reprehensible. Among the questions which he may face in assessing these reasons--questions which reflective thinking is bound to raise and which nearly every ethics text somewhere considers--are questions about his motivation to moral attitudes and action, the question of his capacity to . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

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.