Ethical Reasoning: Theory and Application
  • Publication Date: September 30, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554814411 / 1554814413
  • 160 pages; 6" x 9"

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Ethical Reasoning: Theory and Application

  • Publication Date: September 30, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554814411 / 1554814413
  • 160 pages; 6" x 9"

The philosophical tradition has given rise to many competing moral theories. Virtue ethics encourages the flourishing of the person, theories of justice and rights tell us to act according to principles, and consequentialist theories advise that we seek to bring about good ends. These varied theories highlight the morally relevant features of the problems that we encounter both in everyday personal interactions and on a broader social scale. When used together, they allow us to address moral conflicts by balancing a plurality of reasons in order to reach nuanced ethical decisions. In Ethical Reasoning: Theory and Application, Andrew Kernohan guides the reader through the basics of these moral theories, showing their strengths and weaknesses and emphasizing the ways in which competing moral reasons can be collectively employed to guide decision-making. Throughout, the focus is on practical applications and on how each theory can play a role in solving problems and addressing issues. Numerous questions and exercises are provided to encourage active reflection and retention of information.


Chapter 1: The Role of Moral Theory

  • 1.1 Cooperation, Reason, and Emotion
  • 1.2 Universalizability, Reason-Giving, Ought-Implies-Can, and the Is-Ought Gap
  • 1.3 Ethical Relativism
  • 1.4 Ethical Decision-Making
  • 1.5 Identity, Principle, and Consequence

Chapter 2: Being a Good Person

  • 2.1 Virtue Ethics
  • 2.2 Virtue, Cooperation, and Community Membership
  • 2.3 Wisdom and Virtue
  • 2.4 The Ethics of Care
  • 2.5 Justice and Virtue

Chapter 3: Acting on Principle

  • 3.1 Duties
  • 3.2 Moral Rights
  • 3.3 Justifying Moral Rights
  • 3.4 Justice and Moral Equality
  • 3.5 Distributive Justice

Chapter 4: Creating Good Consequences

  • 4.1 Egoism and Contractarianism
  • 4.2 Experience-Based Utilitarianism
  • 4.3 Preference-Satisfaction Utilitarianism
  • 4.4 Economic Utilitarianism
  • 4.5 Indirect Utilitarianism
  • 4.6 Teleological and Holistic Ethics

Chapter 5: Who is Responsible? Who Counts?

  • 5.1 Moral Agency
  • 5.2 Causal Responsibility
  • 5.3 Moral Accountability
  • 5.4 Autonomy
  • 5.5 Moral Standing

Chapter 6: Resolving Conflicts Between Moral Reasons

  • 6.1 Ethical Pluralism
  • 6.2 Combining Moral Reasons
  • 6.3 Balancing Moral Reasons
  • 6.4 Fallible Moral Reasoning

Andrew Kernohan is an Adjunct of the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie University and author of Environmental Ethics: An Interactive Introduction and Business Ethics: An Interactive Introduction.

  • • A concise and clear introduction to the basic moral theories, covering multiple forms of consequentialism, virtue ethics, and deontology.
  • • Moral theories are presented with practical considerations in mind, with the intent of showing how these theories can be applied to specific real-world issues.
  • • Encourages the reader toward a pluralist approach, whereby the various moral theories reveal different salient features of a problem.
  • • Figures, tables, and conceptual maps are provided to illustrate difficult concepts.
  • • A substantial number of exercises are included throughout the text, helping to reinforce understanding and promote retention; suggested answers are provided online.
  • • Additional exercises are available to instructors for use as quizzes or for review.
  • • Suitable for ethics courses, or for use as a concise supplement for courses in any area of applied ethics.