Ethical Theory: A Concise Anthology – Third Edition
  • Publication Date: April 17, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554813988 / 1554813980
  • 424 pages; 6" x 9"

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Ethical Theory: A Concise Anthology – Third Edition

  • Publication Date: April 17, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554813988 / 1554813980
  • 424 pages; 6" x 9"

This concise anthology collects important historical and contemporary readings on the central ethical theories, including Divine Command Theory, Consequentialism, Deontology, Virtue Ethics, and Feminist Ethics. Each section includes two or three of the most important contributions to the field, together with brief introductions from the editors. This new third edition offers expanded coverage of meta-ethics through the addition of thought-provoking readings from Susan Wolf, Gilbert Harman, and others. The number of selections from women authors has also increased.


“The third edition of Ethical Theory: A Concise Anthology, edited by Heimir Geirsson and Margaret R. Holmgren, is one of my favorite textbooks. It couples historical readings with contemporary moral applications. The canonical readings on ethical theory are accessible to undergraduates, while the compelling applications that follow each section clearly demonstrate to students the relevance of those timeless theories. Because the chapters are topically varied and intellectually rigorous, I do not find it necessary to supplement with additional readings. This book can be used as a stand-alone text in any undergraduate ethical theory course.” — Nancy Williams, Wofford College

“No revised edition of an anthology will please every instructor who uses it, I suspect, but I found much more to please than displease me in the third edition of Ethical Theory: A Concise Anthology. The anthology continues to earn its subtitle, eliminating eight articles or excerpts from the second edition to make room for eight replacements.… I would consider adding all eight of the replacement selections to my syllabus if I had enough room.” — George Felis, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Chapter One: Meta-Ethics and Ethical Relativism

  • Introduction
  • 1. William H. Shaw, “Relativism and Objectivity in Ethics”
  • 2. Gilbert Harman, “Ethics and Observation”
  • 3. Joseph J. Fins, “Encountering Diversity: Medical Ethics and Pluralism”
  • 4. Susan Wolf, “Sanity and the Metaphysics of Responsibility”

Chapter Two: Divine Command Theory

  • Introduction
  • 5. Plato, Euthyphro
  • 6. The Bible, The Story of Abraham

Chapter Three: Egoism

  • Introduction
  • 7. Plato, “The Myth of Gyges”
  • 8. James Rachels, “Egoism and Moral Scepticism”

Chapter Four: Consequentialism

  • Introduction
  • 9. John Stuart Mill, Selection from Utilitarianism
  • 10. John Rawls, “Two Concepts of Rules”
  • 11. Peter Singer, “Rich and Poor”
  • 12. Ursula Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

Chapter Five: Deontology

  • Introduction
  • 13. Immanuel Kant, Selection from The Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals
  • 14. Onora O’Neill, “A Simplified Version of Kant’s Ethics: Perplexities of Famine and World Hunger”
  • 15. Judith Jarvis Thomson, “The Trolley Problem”
  • 16. Thomas Nagel, “Moral Luck”

Chapter Six: Moral Pluralism

  • Introduction
  • 17. W.D. Ross, “What Makes Right Acts Right?”
  • 18. John Kekes, “Pluralism and the Value of Life”
  • 19. Robert Hood, “Global Warming”
  • 20. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, “How Strong Is This Obligation? An Argument for Consequentialism from Concomitant Variation”

Chapter Seven: Virtue Ethics

  • Introduction
  • 21. Aristotle, Selection from Nicomachean Ethics
  • 22. Ogyen Trinley Dorje, “Consumerism and Greed: Contentment Is the Best Wealth”
  • 23. Susan Wolf, “Moral Saints”

Chapter Eight: Feminist Ethics

  • Introduction
  • 24. Hilde Lindemann, “Standard Moral Theories from a Feminist Perspective”
  • 25. Nel Noddings, “Women and Caring”
  • 26. Laurie Shrage, “Prostitution and the Case for Decriminalization”

Permissions Acknowledgments

Heimir Geirsson is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Iowa State University. Margaret R. Holmgren is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Iowa State University.

  • — A concise and focused presentation of the central ethical theories, ideal for a one semester course.
  • — Canonical selections from historical figures, including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Mill.
  • — Important and provocative contemporary readings from Peter Singer, Judith Jarvis Thomson, Susan Wolf, and many others.
  • — Historical selections are generous in size, and most of the contemporary readings are provided in their entirety.
  • — This third edition offers a new section on meta-ethics and includes readings critical of the moral theories at issue.
  • — Introductions to each section contextualize the theories and readings.

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