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The Moral of the Story: An Anthology of Ethics Through Literature

Peter Singer (Editor), Renata Singer (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-4051-0583-5
640 pages
February 2005, ©2005, Wiley-Blackwell
The Moral of the Story: An Anthology of Ethics Through Literature (1405105836) cover image
In The Moral of the Story, Peter and Renata Singer draw on some of the best works of fiction, playwriting, and poetry in order to shed light on the perennial questions of ethics.
  • A vivid montage of literature that touches on a broad range of ethical subjects and themes
  • Offers a unique contribution to the study of moral philosophy and literature
  • Demonstrates how literary sources can add richness to discussions of real-life moral questions and dilemmas
  • Brings together selections and excerpts from the world’s most celebrated short stories, novels, plays, and poetry
  • Features substantive section introductions by Peter and Renata Singer
  • Peter Singer is a leading moral philosopher, widely credited with triggering the modern animal-rights movement. His collection of essays, Unsanctifying Human Life, edited by Helga Kuhse, was published by Blackwell Publishing in 2001.
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    PART ONE: PERSONAL MORAL ISSUES.

    I. Who Am I?.

    Ralph Ellison, from Invisible Man.

    Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey, from Puberty Blues.

    James Baldwin, from Giovanni’s Room.

    Arthur Miller, from The Crucible.

    George Eliot, from Middlemarch.

    Tom Wolfe, from Bonfire of the Vanities.

    William Shakespeare, from Macbeth.

    II. Duties to Kin.

    A. The Duties of Parents to their Children.

    8. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Unnatural Mother”.

    9. Charles Dickens, from Bleak House.

    10. Joseph Kanon, from The Good German.

    B. The Duties of Sisters and Brothers.

    11. Sophocles, from Antigone.

    12. William Shakespeare, from Measure for Measure.

    C. The Duties of Children to their Parents.

    13. Zitkala-Ša, “The Soft-hearted Sioux”.

    14. Ambrose Bierce, “A Horseman in the Sky”.

    15. Alice Munro, from “The Peace of Utrecht”.

    III. Love, Marriage and Sex.

    16. Jane Austen, from Pride and Prejudice.

    17. William Shakespeare, from Romeo and Juliet.

    18. Vikram Seth, from A Suitable Boy.

    19. Guy De Maupassant, “The Model”.

    20. Leo Tolstoy, from Anna Karenina.

    21. George Eliot, from Middlemarch.

    22. Daniel Defoe, from Moll Flanders.

    23. John Cleland, from Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure.

    24. George Bernard Shaw, from Mrs Warren’s Profession.

    IV. Abortion, Euthanasia and Suicide.

    25. Maeve Binchy, from “Shepherd’s Bush”.

    26. Brian Clark, from Whose Life is it Anyway?.

    27. Kate Jennings, from Moral Hazard.

    28. William Shakespeare, from Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

    29. Arna Bontemps, “A Summer Tragedy”.

    PART TWO: THE COMMUNITY AND BEYOND.

    V. Work Ethics.

    30. Elizabeth Gaskell, from North and South.

    31. Edwin Seaver, from The Company.

    32. Ruth Ozeki, from My Year of Meats.

    33. Henrik Ibsen, from An Enemy of the People.

    34. C.P. Snow, from The Search.

    VI. What Do We Owe to Our Country, Compatriots and Strangers.

    35. Euripedes, from Iphigeneia at Aulis.

    36. Geraldine Brooks, from Year of Wonders.

    37. Ian McEwan, from Enduring Love.

    38. Nick Hornby, from How to be Good.

    39. Joyce Carol Oates, “The Undesirable Table”.

    VII. Ethics and Politics.

    40. Anthony Trollope, from Can You Forgive Her.

    Anonymous (Joe Klein), from Primary Colors.

    Anthony Trollope, from Phineas Finn.

    VIII. Racism and Sexism.

    43. Harriet Beecher Stowe, from Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

    44. Lerone Bennett Jr., “The Convert”.

    45. William Shakespeare, from The Taming of the Shrew.

    46. Henryk Ibsen, from The Doll's House.

    IX. War.

    47. Leo Tolstoy, from War and Peace.

    48. Pat Barker, from Regeneration.

    49. Wilfred Owen, “S.I.W.”.

    50. William Shakespeare, from King Henry V (Act 3 .Scene 3).

    51.William Shakespeare, from King Henry V (Act 4, Scene 1).

    52. Alfred Lord Tennyson, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”.

    53. S.Yizhar, from “The Prisoner”.

    54. John Fowles, from The Magus.

    X. Animals and the Environment.

    55. Desmond Stewart, “The Limits of Trooghaft”.

    56. Richard Adams, from The Plague Dogs.

    57. Douglas Adams, from Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

    58. James Fenimore Cooper, from The Pioneers.

    XI. Duties to God.

    59. Aeschylus, from Prometheus Bound.

    60. Genesis 22, from The Holy Bible.

    61. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, from The Brothers Karamazov.

    XII. New Life Forms.

    62. Mary Shelley, from Frankenstein.

    63. Karel Capek, from The Makropulos Secret.

    PART THREE: REFLECTING ON ETHICS.

    XIII. The Nature of Ethics.

    64. E. Pauline Johnson, “The Sea Serpent”.

    65. Daniel Defoe, from Robinson Crusoe [pp194-199].

    66. Mark Twain, from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

    67. Graham Greene, from The Third Man.

    68. Tadeusz Borowski, “This Way For The Gas, Ladies and Gentelemen”.

    XIV. Rules, Rights, Duties and The Greater Good.

    69. Ursula Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”.

    70. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, from Crime and Punishment.

    71. Kazuo Ishiguro, from The Remains of the Day.

    72. Anthony Trollope, from Dr Wortle’s School.

    73. George Eliot, from Middlemarch.

    74. Harper Lee, from To Kill a Mockingbird.

    75. William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 138” [“When my love swears that she is made of truth”?].

    XV. Ultimate Values.

    76. Daniel Defoe, from Robinson Crusoe [pp148-149].

    77. Henry James, from The Portrait of a Lady.

    78. Aldous Huxley, from Brave New World.

    79. Henry James, from The Princess Casamassima.

    Index

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    Peter Singer is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University. He is the author of Animal Liberation (1975), and is widely credited with triggering the modern animal rights movement. His other books include Practical Ethics (1979), Rethinking Life and Death (1995) and One World (2002). He is also the editor of A Companion to Ethics (Blackwell, 1991), In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave (Blackwell, 2005), and, with Helga Kuhse, of A Companion to Bioethics (Blackwell, 1999) and Bioethics: An Anthology (Blackwell, 1999). A collection of his best essays on ethics, Unsanctifying Human Life, edited by Helga Kuhse, was published by Blackwell in 2002.


    Renata Singer has taught in Oxfordshire and New Jersey, developed anti-racist programs in Sydney and written about development programs in South Africa, El Salvador, and Ethiopia. Her first novel, The Front of the Family,was published in 2002. Among her non-fiction works are the books True Stories from the Land of Divorce (with Nelly Zola, 1995) and Goodbye and Hello (with Susie Orzech, 1985).

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    • A vivid montage of literature that touches on a broad range of ethical subjects and themes
    • Offers a unique contribution to the study of moral philosophy and literature
    • Demonstrates how literary sources can add richness to discussions of real-life moral questions and dilemmas
    • Brings together selections and excerpts from the world’s most celebrated short stories, novels, plays, and poetry
    • Features substantive section introductions by Peter and Renata Singer
    • Peter Singer is a leading moral philosopher, widely credited with triggering the modern animal-rights movement. His collection of essays, Unsanctifying Human Life, edited by Helga Kuhse, was published by Blackwell Publishing in 2001.
    See More
    “Shelley called poets ‘the unacknowledged legislators of the world.’ Peter and Renata Singer have made novelists and playwrights (and poets!), its acknowledged ethicists. An intriguing collection.” Randy Cohen, writer of “The Ethicist” for the New York Times Magazine


    “This excellent, wide-ranging anthology reminds us that there is as much ethics in Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky as in Kant or Mill. Philosophy departments should leave around copies for students to dip into and be inspired by.” Jonathan Glover, King’s College London


    “An essential and enriching anthology, selected with wisdom and care by Peter and Renata Singer…an invaluable light on the moral and ethical landscape.” Carol Rocamora, New York University

    "The Moral of the Story is an extremely stimulating collection. Its examples are mostly drawn from classics, but there are enough idiosyncratic contemporary choices to give it a distinct flavour." James Ley, The Age

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