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This Is Ethics: An Introduction

ISBN: 978-1-118-47984-1
328 pages
June 2014, Wiley-Blackwell
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Description

This is Ethics presents an accessible and engaging introduction to a variety of issues relating to contemporary moral philosophy.

  • Covers a wide range of topics which are actively debated in contemporary moral philosophy
  • Addresses the nature of happiness, well-being, and the meaning of life, the role of moral principles in moral thinking, moral motivation, and moral responsibility
  • Covers timely ethical issues such as population growth and climate change
  • Offers additional resources at www.thisisphilosophy.com
  • Features extensive annotated bibliographies, summaries, and study questions for further investigation
  • Written in an accessible, jargon-free manner using  helpful illustrative examples
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Table of Contents

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xix

Part One What’s in Our Interests? 1

1 Pleasure 3

Three Questions about Pleasure 4

What Is Pleasure? 6

The sensation view 7

The attitude view 7

The desire view 8

Physiology of pleasure* 10

Value of Pleasure 11

Hedonism 12

Argument in favor of hedonism 1: Discernible differences 13

Argument in favor of hedonism 2: Motivation 13

Higher pleasures 13

Pluralism about prudential value 15

Nozick’s experience machine argument 15

Two responses to Nozick 16

Pessimism about the value of pleasure* 17

Summary and Questions 19

Annotated Bibliography 20

Online Resources 22

2 Happiness, Well-being, and the Meaning of Life 25

Hedonism, Again 27

Objection 1: Trivial pleasures 28

Objection 2: The role of happiness in deliberation 28

Satisfaction Theories 29

Desire satisfaction theories of well-being 29

Objections to desire satisfaction theories 30

Objection 1: Which desires count? 30

Objection 2: Expensive tastes 31

Life satisfaction theories of happiness 32

An objection to life satisfaction theories 33

Objective List Theories 34

Objections to the objective list theories 35

The Capability Approach* 37

Happiness and the Meaning of Life 39

Emotional state theory of happiness* 40

The question of the meaning of life 41

Susan Wolf ’s fitting fulfillment theory 42

Summary and Questions 43

Annotated Bibliography 44

Online Resources 47

Part Two Normative Ethics 51

3 Egoism and Altruism 53

Different Forms of Egoism and Altruism 55

Feldman’s objection to ethical egoism 56

Two Arguments for Ethical Egoism 57

The “ought implies can” argument 58

The practical reasons argument 58

Two Objections to Psychological Egoism 59

The everyday objection 59

The evolutionary objection 60

Moore’s Argument against Ethical Egoism* 62

Problems of Moore’s argument* 63

Gauthier’s Contractarianism 64

The paradox of social cooperation 65

Contractarianism as a solution 67

The compliance problem 68

Reason one: Risk of exclusion 69

Reason two: Risk of revealing your true motives 69

Summary 69

Problems with Gauthier’s Theory 70

Objection 1: Scope of moral concern 70

Objection 2: Deception 70

Objection 3: Acting for right reasons 71

Summary and Questions 71

Annotated Bibliography 73

Online Resources 75

4 Consequentialism and Kantian Ethics 79

Consequentialism 80

Utilitarianism 82

Deliberation procedure vs. criterion of rightness 83

Direct vs. indirect forms of consequentialism 83

Utilitarianism vs. richer conceptions of value 84

Actual vs. expected value 85

Maximizing vs. satisficing 86

Mill’s Argument for Utilitarianism 86

The problems with Mill’s argument 88

Saving Mill’s argument 89

Kantian Ethics 90

The good will 90

The universalization test 92

Duties, right and wrong 94

Why do the right thing? 95

Reason 1: Exceptions 95

Reason 2: Freedom 96

Counterexamples and Convergence 97

Counterexamples to utilitarianism 98

Counterexamples to the Categorical Imperative 99

Utilitarian and consequentialist responses to the counterexamples* 100

Kantian responses to the counterexamples* 102

Convergence* 104

Summary and Questions 105

Annotated Bibliography 106

Online Resources 109

5 Intuitionism, Particularism, and Virtue Ethics 113

Ross’s Objection to Consequentialism and Kantian Ethics 113

Intuitionism in Normative Ethics 115

Prima facie duties 115

How do you know? 117

Prima facie duties and actual duties 118

Particularism 120

Prima facie duties and holism 120

Holism and particularism* 121

Knowing what is right* 123

Virtue Ethics 124

Flourishing 125

Virtue acquisition 127

Acting virtuously 128

Right and wrong acts 129

Two Objections to Virtue Ethics 130

Circularity 130

Improving yourself 131

Virtue ethics and moral sensibility 131

Summary and Questions 133

Annotated Bibliography 134

Online Resources 136

Part Three Metaethics 139

6 Subjectivism, Relativism, and Divine Commands 141

Subjectivism 143

Advantages of subjectivism 144

Objections to subjectivism 144

Objection 1: Experience 145

Objection 2: Infallibility 145

Objection 3: Disagreement 145

Relativism 146

Advantages of relativism 148

Problems of relativism 149

Problem 1: Disagreement 149

Problem 2: Moral fallibility 150

Problem 3: Tolerance 150

Problem 4: Multiculturalism 151

Divine Command Theory 151

Divine command theory and moral words 151

Divine command theory and moral properties 153

Advantages of divine command theory 154

The Euthyphro Dilemma* 155

What is right explains what God commands* 156

God’s commands explain what is right* 156

Problem 1: God’s goodness 157

Problem 2: Anything could be wrong 157

Problem 3: The reasons for God’s commands 158

Summary and Questions 158

Annotated Bibliography 159

Online Resources 163

7 Naturalism and the Open Question Argument 167

Moral Realism 167

Naturalism vs. non-naturalism 168

Pros and cons of non-naturalism 169

The Open Question Argument 171

Stage 1: Words and properties 172

Stage 2: Moral words and moral properties 173

Stage 3: The open question test 173

Stage 4: Moral words and open questions 174

Stage 5: Putting the argument together 175

Responses to the Open Question Argument 176

Response 1: Begging the question 176

Response 2: Making know-how explicit 177

Response 3: The sense/reference distinction 179

Intuitionism in Metaethics* 181

The problem of knowledge* 181

Foundationalism to the rescue* 183

Misconceptions and objections* 184

Misconception 1: The role of experience and emotions 184

Misconception 2: What seems self-evident to you 184

Objection 1: People who understand but don’t agree 185

Objection 2: Dogmatism 186

Summary and Questions 186

Annotated Bibliography 187

Online Resources 190

8 Moral Motivation and Expressivism 195

The Argument from Motivation 196

The Humean Theory of Motivation 197

Directions of fit 197

The role of beliefs and desires 198

Moral Judgment Internalism 199

Very Strong Internalism 200

Weakness of will 201

Strong Internalism 201

Counterexamples to Strong Internalism 202

Amoralists 202

Bad people 203

A case of depression 204

Expressivism 205

The core claims of expressivism 206

Claim 1: Moral judgments 207

Claim 2: Moral language 208

Claim 3: Moral properties 210

Responses to two common objections 211

Objection 1: Truths and facts 211

Objection 2: Mere attitudes 211

The Frege–Geach Problem 212

Embedded claims 212

Valid inferences* 213

The negation problem* 214

Summary and Questions 215

Annotated Bibliography 217

Online Resources 220

Part Four Ethical Questions 223

9 Moral Responsibility 225

What Is Moral Responsibility? 225

Causal responsibility and attributability 227

The agency condition 227

Freedom and real selves 229

The Freedom Principle: A Threat for Moral Responsibility 230

The consequence argument 230

The problem of luck 231

Galen Strawson’s argument against moral responsibility 232

The Frankfurt Cases 234

Objections and responses* 235

Objection 1: Flicker of freedom 235

Objection 2: A dilemma 235

Response 1: Mele and Robb 236

Response 2: Dennett 236

The Deep Attributability Principle 237

Frankfurt’s higher-order desire theory 238

The Real Self 239

Watson’s theory of the real self 240

The time-slice problem 241

Responsiveness to reasons 242

Summary and Questions 243

Annotated Bibliography 244

Online Resources 247

10 Population Growth and Climate Change 249

The Non-Identity Effect 251

The Repugnant Conclusion 253

The average utility principle 256

Critical-level utilitarianism* 257

Variable value view and intuitions* 259

Climate Change and Personal Obligations 260

Carbon off setting 261

Climate Change and Governments 262

The discount rate* 264

The social action problem 266

Climate Change and Uncertainty 267

Maximizing expected value* 268

Summary and Questions 269

Annotated Bibliography 271

Online Resources 272

Glossary of Terms 275

Index 293

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Author Information

Jussi Suikkanen is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Birmingham, UK. He has contributed numerous articles on metaethics and normative ethics in journals such as The Philosophical Quarterly, Oxford Studies in Metaethics, and Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.

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Reviews

“Jussi Suikkanen is one of the world’s best young moral philosophers, and in this clear and wide-ranging text, he provides an excellent introduction to the philosophical investigation of morality, spanning applied ethics, normative ethics and metaethics. Highly recommended for students and teachers of philosophical ethics.”

Alexander Miller, University of Otago

"Suikkanen's ethics textbook is one of the very best — and most useful — in existence. The book insightfully discusses the main positions in contemporary normative theory, as well as the leading metaethical theories.
The weblinks and glossary will prove invaluable to students."

Brad Hooker, University of Reading

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