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The Moral Problem

ISBN: 978-0-631-19246-6
240 pages
December 1994, Wiley-Blackwell
The Moral Problem (0631192468) cover image


This widely anticipated volume offers a systematic introduction to and striking analysis of the central issues animating current debate in moral philosophy.
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Table of Contents

1. What is the Moral Problem?.

2. The Expressivist Challenge.

3. The Externalist Challenge.

4. The Humean Theory of Motivation.

5. An Anti-Humean Theory of Normative Reasons.

6. How to Solve the Moral Problem.

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Author Information

Michael Smith is Reader in Philosophy at Monash University, Australia, having taught previously at the University of Oxford and Princeton University. He is the author of several essays in ethics and moral philosophy.
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The Wiley Advantage

* The most widely anticipated new work in meta-ethics.
* Contains an important defence of cognitivism and rationalism in ethics.
* Forwards a novel defence of the internal connection between moral judgement and the will.
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The Moral Problem's ability to combine originality and subject overview are two factors that render this book an essential text for anyone enrolled on an intermediate level moral philosophy course and above. With a certain level of guidance, the book's powerful clarity and explanatory style could also be harnessed at the introductory level. Overall, I strong recommend this text and believe the non-philosopher would also learn a great deal about how moral philosophy works.”  (Philosophy & Economics Books Reviews, 1 April 2013)

"Vigorous, engaging, and marvelously sophisticated, Michael Smith's The Moral Problem faces head-on the challenge of reconciling morality's motivational relevance with its claims to objectivity and categorical force - without abandoning a Humean account of human action and without metaphysical extravagance." Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, University of North Carolina

"Extraordinarily clear and well organised. Reading this book takes you right into the centre of the intense contemporary debate on moral theory. Smith knows exactly what he is doing, and slowly puts together a redoubtable argument for the broadly realist position he favours." Jonathan Dancy, University of Reading


"An intelligent, clear, and engaging book" Times Literary Supplement

"An outstanding and ambitious work, it serves at once as a lucid introduction to metaethics and a wide-ranging inquiry into some of its hardest problems." Brad Hooker, University of Reading

"A marvelous volume: it is not only an important contribution to philosophical ethics, but also an exciting introduction to the subject. The book is an excellent model of how to do philosophy, a model I hope students (and their teachers) will adopt for themselves." Gilbert Harman, Princeton University

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