Ethics: History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues


The most comprehensive collection of its kind, Ethics is organized into three sections, providing instructors with flexibility in designing and teaching a variety of courses in moral philosophy. Opening with Alasdair MacIntyre's discussion of the importance of the history of ethics, the first section, Historical Sources, moves from classical thought (Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Epictetus) through medieval views (Augustine and Aquinas) to modern theories (Hobbes, Butler, Hume, Kant, Bentham, and Mill). It culminates with the religiosity of Kierkegaard, the pessimism of Schopenhauer, the nihilism of Nietzsche, the pragmatism of James and Dewey, and the existentialism of Camus and Sartre. The readings are reprinted in their entirety wherever possible. The second section, Modern Ethical Theory, begins with James Rachels' overview of recent developments, and includes many of the most important essays of the twentieth century. The discussion of utilitarianism, Kantianism, egoism, and relativism continues in the work of major contemporary philosophers (Williams, Brandt, Feinberg, Foot, and Rachels). Landmark selections (Moore, Ross, Stevenson, Baier, Hare, Harman, and Gauthier) reflect concern with moral language and the justification of morality. The concepts of justice (Rawls), rights (Feinberg), and saintliness (Urmson and Wolff) are explored, as well as recent views on the importance of virtue ethics (MacIntyre and Rachels), and an ethic influenced by feminist concerns (Held). Peter Singer's discussion of the significance of applied ethics opens the third section, Contemporary Moral Problems. The readings present the current debates over abortion (Thomson, Tooley, and Sterba), euthanasia (Rachels and Foot), famine relief (Singer and Arthur), animal rights (Regan and Cohen), the death penalty (van den Haat and Nathanson), and affirmative action (Hill and Kekes).

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • James Rachels
  • Peter Singer
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1998


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