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Ethics

Ethics

Themes from G. E. Moore

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These thirteen original essays, whose authors include some of the world’s leading philosophers, examine themes from the work of the Cambridge philosopher G. E. Moore (1873-1958), and demonstrate his considerable continuing influence on philosophical debate. Part I bears on epistemological topics, such as skepticism about the external world, the significance of common sense, and theories of perception. Part II is devoted to themes in ethics, such as Moore’s open question argument, his non-naturalism, utilitarianism, and his notion of organic unities. ~ Product Description • "A welcome addition to the re-evaluation of Moore’s philosophical legacy. The book as a whole is well-organized; the authors cover a wide range of topics related to Moore’s work in epistemology and ethics. The well written essays are timely and the authors demonstrate the contemporary relevance of Moore’s work by showing how his views illuminate current disputes. This book will be useful to experts in the field and is accessible to those who are new comers to Moore’s work." ~ William Tolhurst, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Objectivism, Subjectivism, and Relativism in Ethics

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Do we desire things because they are good, or are they good because we desire them? Objectivists answer that we desire things because they are good; subjectivists answer that things are good because we desire them. Further, does it make sense to account for moral disagreement by claiming, as the moral relativist does, that something might be good for one person but not for another? Some essays in this book consider whether objective moral truths can be grounded in an understanding of the nature of human beings as rational and social animals. Some discuss the ethical theories of historical figures-Aristotle, Aquinas, or Kant-or offer critical assessments of the work of recent and contemporary theorists — such as Moore, Putnam, Ayn Rand, Philippa Foot, and Rosalind Hursthouse. Other essays ask whether moral principles and values can be constructed through a process of practical reasoning or deliberation. Still others consider what the phenomenology of our moral experiences can reveal about moral objectivity. ~ Product Description

Timothy Keller on Concern for This World

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Christianity, therefore, is perhaps the most materialistic of the world’s faiths. Jesus’s miracles were not so much violations of the natural order, but a restoration of the natural order. God did not create a world with blindness, leprosy, hunger, and death in it. Jesus’s miracles were signs that someday all these corruptions of his creation would be abolished. Christians therefore can talk of saving the soul and of building social systems that deliver safe streets and warm homes in the same sentence. With integrity. ¶ Jesus hates suffering, injustice, evil, and death so much, he came and experienced it to defeat it and someday, to wipe the world clean of it. Knowing all this, Christians cannot be passive about hunger, sickness, and injustice. Karl Marx and others have charged that religion is “the opiate of the masses.” That is, it is a sedative that makes people passive toward injustice, because there will be “pie in the sky bye and bye.” That may be true of some religions that teach people that this material world is unimportant or illusory. Christianity, however, teaches that God hates the suffering and oppression of this material world so much, he was willing to get involved in it and to fight against it. Properly understood, Christianity is by no means the opiate of the people. It’s more like the smelling salts.

Ethical Intuitionism

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A defense of ethical intuitionism where (i) there are objective moral truths; (ii) we know these through an immediate, intellectual awareness, or "intuition"; and (iii) knowing them gives us reasons to act independent of our desires. The author rebuts the major objections to this theory and shows the difficulties in alternative theories of ethics. • "Read this. It is the best book ever written on meta-ethics. Even philosophers who know the field may feel as though they are confronting these issues for the first time. I used to think of ethical intuitionism as a silly, naIve, even ridiculous theory, but Michael Huemer has made an intuitionist out of me." ~ Stuart Rachels, University of Alabama • "Huemer’s book may be the best, most comprehensive defense of ethical intuitionism since Moore’s Principia Ethica…[it] is an outstanding defense of the view that there are objective moral truths knowable through intuition. Whether or not one agrees with Huemer’s conclusions, one cannot ignore the power of his arguments." ~ Richard Fumerton, University of Iowa

Paul Copan on Naturalism and Ethics

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Yes, many naturalists deny that objective moral values exist — that our moral impulse is nothing more than the product of a blind evolutionary process that selects out traits that enhance survival and reproduction. I such a case, morality is merely subjective. However, non-theists can and do endorse objective moral values — that rape or child abuse is wrong. These nontheistic moral realists will tell us, “You don’t need God to be good.” Yet the deeper question is, how did we come to be morally responsible, rights-bearing beings? Since all human beings are God’s image-bearers, they not surprisingly recognize the same sorts of moral values theist do. The basic issue, tough, is this: why think humans have rights and dignity if they’re products of valueless, physical processes in a cause-and-effect series from the bing bang until now? The more plausible context or scenario is that human value and moral responsibility come from a good God who created us as intrinsically valuable, morally responsible creatures.

Human Evolution and Christian Ethics

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Can the origins of morality be explained entirely in evolutionary terms? If so, what are the implications for Christian moral theology and ethics? Is the latter redundant, as socio-biologists often assert? Stephen Pope argues that theologians need to engage with evolutionary theory rather than ignoring it. He shows that our growing knowledge of human evolution is compatible with Christian faith and morality, provided that the former is not interpreted reductionistically and the latter is not understood in fundamentalist ways. Christian ethics ought to incorporate evolutionary approaches to human nature to the extent that they provide helpful knowledge of the conditions of human flourishing, both collective and individual. From this perspective, a strong affirmation of human dignity and appreciation for the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity is consistent with a revised account of natural law and the cardinal virtues. ~ Product Description

Douglas Wilson on Determinism and Reason

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But it is interesting that the same thing happens to you when you have to give some warrant for trusting in “reason”. I noted your citation of LaPlace in your book and am glad you brought him up here. LaPlace believed he was not in need of the God hypothesis, just like you, but you should also know he held this position as a firm believer in celestial and terrestrial mechanics. He was a causal determinist, meaning that he believed that every element of the universe in the present was “the effect of its past and the cause of its future.”

The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory

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The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory is a major new reference work in ethical theory consisting of commissioned essays by leading moral philosophers. Ethical theories have always been of central importance to philosophy, and remain so; ethical theory is one of the most active areas of philosophical research and teaching today. Courses in ethics are taught in colleges and universities at all levels, and ethical theory is the organizing principle for all of them. The Handbook is divided into two parts, mirroring the field. The first part treats meta-ethical theory, which deals with theoretical questions about morality and moral judgment, including questions about moral language, the epistemology of moral belief, the truth aptness of moral claims, and so forth. The second part addresses normative theory, which deals with general moral issues, including the plausibility of various ethical theories and abstract principles of behavior. Examples of such theories are consequentialism and virtue theory. As with other Oxford Handbooks, the twenty-five contributors cover the field in a comprehensive and highly accessible way, while achieving three goals: exposition of central ideas, criticism of other approaches, and putting forth a distinct viewpoint. ~ Product Description

Cosmopolitanism

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AAppiah, a Princeton philosophy professor, articulates a precise yet flexible ethical manifesto for a world characterized by heretofore unthinkable interconnection but riven by escalating fractiousness. Drawing on his Ghanaian roots and on examples from philosophy and literature, he attempts to steer a course between the extremes of liberal universalism, with its tendency to impose our values on others, and cultural relativism, with its implicit conviction that gulfs in understanding cannot be bridged. Cosmopolitanism, in Appiah’s formulation, balances our “obligations to others” with the "value not just of human life but of particular human lives" — what he calls “universality plus difference.” Appiah remains skeptical of simple maxims for ethical behavior — like the Golden Rule, whose failings as a moral precept he swiftly demonstrates — and argues that cosmopolitanism is the name not "of the solution but of the challenge." ~ The New Yorker

The Happiness Hypothesis

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The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, lamented St. Paul, and this engrossing scientific interpretation of traditional lore backs him up with hard data. Citing Plato, Buddha and modern brain science, psychologist Haidt notes the mind is like an "elephant" of automatic desires and impulses atop which conscious intention is an ineffectual "rider." Haidt sifts Eastern and Western religious and philosophical traditions for other nuggets of wisdom to substantiate — and sometimes critique — with the findings of neurology and cognitive psychology. The Buddhist-Stoic injunction to cast off worldly attachments in pursuit of happiness, for example, is backed up by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s studies into pleasure. And Nietzsche’s contention that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger is considered against research into post-traumatic growth. An exponent of the "positive psychology" movement, Haidt also offers practical advice on finding happiness and meaning. Riches don’t matter much, he observes, but close relationships, quiet surroundings and short commutes help a lot, while meditation, cognitive psychotherapy and Prozac are equally valid remedies for constitutional unhappiness. Haidt sometimes seems reductionist, but his is an erudite, fluently written, stimulating reassessment of age-old issues. ~ Publishers Weekly

Moral Minds

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Marc Hauser’s eminently readable and comprehensive book Moral Minds is revolutionary. He argues that humans have evolved a universal moral instinct, unconsciously propelling us to deliver judgments of right and wrong independent of gender, education, and religion. Experience tunes up our moral actions, guiding what we do as opposed to how we deliver our moral verdicts. For hundreds of years, scholars have argued that moral judgments arise from rational and voluntary deliberations about what ought to be. The common belief today is that we reach moral decisions by consciously reasoning from principled explanations of what society determines is right or wrong. This perspective has generated the further belief that our moral psychology is founded entirely on experience and education, developing slowly and subject to considerable variation across cultures. In his groundbreaking book, Hauser shows that this dominant view is illusory. Combining his own cutting-edge research with findings in cognitive psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, economics, and anthropology, he examines the implications of his theory for issues of bioethics, religion, law, and our everyday lives. ~ Product Description

Arguing About Metaethics

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Arguing about Metaethics collects together some of the most exciting contemporary work in metaethics in one handy volume. In it, many of the most influential philosophers in the field discuss key questions in metaethics: Do moral properties exist? If they do, how do they fit into the world as science conceives it? If they don’t exist, then how should we understand moral thought and language? What is the relation between moral judgement and motivation? As well as these questions, this volume discusses a wide range of issues including moral objectivity, truth and moral judgements, moral psychology, thick evaluative concepts and moral relativism. The editors provide lucid introductions to each of the eleven themed sections in which they show how the debate lies and outline the arguments of the papers. Arguing about Metaethics is an ideal resource text for students at upper undergraduate or postgraduate level.

The Evolution of Morality

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Moral thinking pervades our practical lives, but where did this way of thinking come from, and what purpose does it serve? Is it to be explained by environmental pressures on our ancestors a million years ago, or is it a cultural invention of more recent origin? In The Evolution of Morality, Richard Joyce takes up these controversial questions, finding that the evidence supports an innate basis to human morality. As a moral philosopher, Joyce is interested in whether any implications follow from this hypothesis. Might the fact that the human brain has been biologically prepared by natural selection to engage in moral judgment serve in some sense to vindicate this way of thinking — staving off the threat of moral skepticism, or even undergirding some version of moral realism? Or if morality has an adaptive explanation in genetic terms — if it is, as Joyce writes, "just something that helped our ancestors make more babies" — might such an explanation actually undermine morality’s central role in our lives? He carefully examines both the evolutionary "vindication of morality" and the evolutionary "debunking of morality," considering the skeptical view more seriously than have others who have treated the subject. Interdisciplinary and combining the latest results from the empirical sciences with philosophical discussion, The Evolution of Morality is one of the few books in this area written from the perspective of moral philosophy. Concise and without technical jargon, the arguments are rigorous but accessible to readers from different academic backgrounds. Joyce discusses complex issues in plain language while advocating subtle and sometimes radical views. The Evolution of Morality lays the philosophical foundations for further research into the biological understanding of human morality. ~ Product Description

The Lost Virtue of Happiness

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Starting from the American "pursuit of happiness," Moreland (a philosophy professor at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University) and Issler (a Christian education and theology professor, also at Talbot) connect with a widely felt desire. Yet they immediately take readers into deeper reflection of the very content of the happiness we pursue, arguing that our consumerist culture has replaced the more satisfying content of true happiness with a poor substitute. Moving smoothly into a discussion of discipleship, they focus on spiritual disciplines as the key to true happiness in life. Subsequent chapters explore how the spiritual disciplines can be used to improve many areas of our lives–emotions, thoughts, risk taking and the development of a more mature faith during difficult times. They end with a convincing chapter on the importance of spiritual friendships. Although exploring some deep topics, this will still be accessible to most readers and very useful for study groups, particularly with the excellent discussion questions at the end of each chapter. The practical suggestions and creative exercises throughout will be particularly helpful for those new to spiritual disciplines. ~ Publishers Weekly

Ethics Without Ontology

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In this brief book one of the most distinguished living American philosophers takes up the question of whether ethical judgments can properly be considered objective — a question that has vexed philosophers over the past century. Looking at the efforts of philosophers from the Enlightenment through the twentieth century, Putnam traces the ways in which ethical problems arise in a historical context. Hilary Putnam’s central concern is ontology — indeed, the very idea of ontology as the division of philosophy concerned with what (ultimately) exists. Reviewing what he deems the disastrous consequences of ontology’s influence on analytic philosophy — in particular, the contortions it imposes upon debates about the objective of ethical judgments — Putnam proposes abandoning the very idea of ontology. He argues persuasively that the attempt to provide an ontological explanation of the objectivity of either mathematics or ethics is, in fact, an attempt to provide justifications that are extraneous to mathematics and ethics — and is thus deeply misguided. ~ Product Description

William Wainright on Kant and Transcendent Morality

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The trouble with acting solely on the basis of natural incentives like sympathy is therefore this. The maxims which are guiding our actions are derived from desires which aren’t shared by all (possible) rational beings, and thus can’t be regarded as expressions of pure moral reason. ¶ Why does Kant adopt this position? A person’s emotions, feelings, and inclinations are part of his or her biological inheritance. However admirable they may be, acts that are only expressions of feeling and inclination are acts of human animals, of beings caught up in the web of nature, locked into the system of natural causes and effects. When we act because we see that something is right, however, our behavior is an expression of our reason and will, of those aspects of ourselves which transcend nature. ¶ Two “worlds” or realities must be distinguished. The phenomenal world or world of appearances discloses itself in sense perception and is investigated by science. It includes observable substances, qualities, and events, and theoretical entities like subatomic particles which science postulates to explain them. “Behind” the world of appearances lies the noumenal world — reality as it is in itself, and not as it manifests itself to us. This world is inaccessible to theoretical reason and is therefore, in the strict sense, unknowable. But human beings belong to both worlds. As parts of nature, we are members of the phenomenal world, and our behavior can be explained in terms of natural causality. As free and rational beings, we are members of the noumenal world, and our actions are self-determined.

R. C. Sproul on Ex Lex and Euthyphro

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In the Ex Lex debate, the question was raised as to whether God’s will functioned apart from any law or outside of any law (ex lex), or whether the will of God was itself subjected to some norm of righteousness or cosmic law that God was required to follow and, therefore, His will was exercised under law (sub lego). The question was: Is God apart from law or is He under law? ¶ The church’s response to this dilemma was to say basically “a pox on both houses,” and to declare that God is neither apart from law nor under law in these respective senses. Rather, the church responded by affirming that God is both apart from law and under law, in so far as He is free from any restraints imposed upon Him by some law that exists outside of Himself. In that sense, He is apart from law and not under law. Yet at the same time, God is not arbitrary or capricious and works according to the law of His own nature. The church declared that God is a law unto Himself.

Religion And Morality

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Covering a broad range of topics, this book draws on both historical and contemporary literature, and explores afresh central issues of morality and religion offering new insights for students, academics and the general reader interested in philosophy and religion. • "It is well-written, cogent, the analyses were informative and detailed (but not so detailed they’d put you to sleep) and the arguments rigorous, clear and cogent. … Wainwright is a top notch Kant scholar, and you can see he has a passion for the man’s work when he discusses Kant’s argument for the existence of God. The arguments are so clear, so simple, and he defends them so well, I’m almost tempted to write in the margins ‘QED’. I really thought Wainwright shed new light on this subject, and pulled effectively from other scholars who have done work on it. The same is true of his analysis of the argument from the phenomenology of conscience. His presentation, his analysis of possible objections and his counter-arguments are like water, this way truth lies. ~ Plantinganut at Amazon.com

Sense and Goodness Without God

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If God does not exist, then what does? Is there good and evil, and should we care? How do we know what’s true anyway? And can we make any sense of this universe, or our own lives? Sense and Goodness answers all these questions in lavish detail, without complex jargon. A complete worldview is presented and defended, covering every subject from knowledge to art, from metaphysics to morality, from theology to politics. Topics include free will, the nature of the universe, the meaning of life, and much more, arguing from scientific evidence that there is only a physical, natural world without gods or spirits, but that we can still live a life of love, meaning, and joy. ~ Product Description

Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe

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Suppose there is no God. This supposition implies that human life is meaningless, that there are no moral obligations and hence people can do whatever they want, and that the notions of virtue and vice, right and wrong, and good and evil have no place in the universe. Erik J. Wielenberg believes this view to be utterly erroneous and, in this thought-provoking book, he explains the reasons why. He argues that, even if God does not exist, human life can still have meaning, humans do have moral obligations, and human virtue is still possible. Wielenberg offers readers a cogent explanation of the ethical implications of naturalism — a view that denies the existence of the supernatural in human life. In his view virtue exists in a godless universe but it is significantly different from virtue in a Christian universe, and he develops naturalistic accounts of humility, charity, and hope. The overarching theme of Virtue and Value in a Godless Universe is what ethics might look like without God. Erik Wielenberg takes readers on an extraordinary tour of some of the central landmarks of this under-explored territory. ~ Product Description

Nature as Reason

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This noteworthy book develops a new theory of the natural law that takes its orientation from the account of the natural law developed by Thomas Aquinas, as interpreted and supplemented in the context of scholastic theology in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Though this history might seem irrelevant to twenty-first-century life, Jean Porter shows that the scholastic approach to the natural law still has much to contribute to the contemporary discussion of Christian ethics. Aquinas and his interlocutors provide a way of thinking about the natural law that is distinctively theological while at the same time remaining open to other intellectual perspectives, including those of science. In the course of her work, Porter examines the scholastics’ assumptions and beliefs about nature, Aquinas’s account of happiness, and the overarching claim that reason can generate moral norms. Ultimately, Porter argues that a Thomistic theory of the natural law is well suited to provide a starting point for developing a more nuanced account of the relationship between specific beliefs and practices. While Aquinas’s approach to the natural law may not provide a system of ethical norms that is both universally compelling and detailed enough to be practical, it does offer something that is arguably more valuable — namely, a way of reflecting theologically on the phenomenon of human morality. ~ Product Description

How Should We Live?

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Louis Pojman’s new How Should We Live? is a concise and engaging text that offers a provocative discussion of the central questions and theories in moral philosophy. Crafted by one of contemporary philosophy’s most gifted teachers, it begins with a poignant meditation on Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a starting point for an eye-opening examination of central metaethical concepts such as relativism, objectivism, egoism, and whether or not religion is a necessity for morality. From there Pojman presents with even-handed consideration and in a readily accessible style the three most seminal ethical theories: utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue-based ethics. The book’s discussion culminates with a very timely exploration of the grounds for human rights in today’s increasingly global society. ~ Product Description

Divine Motivation Theory

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Because she is widely regarded in the field of contemporary philosophy of religion, Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski’s latest book will be a major contribution to ethical theory and theological ethics. At the core of her work lies a new form of virtue theory based on the emotions. Distinct from deontological, consequentialist and teleological virtue theories, this theory has a particular theological Christian foundation. ~ Product Description • “Well-written and cogently argued, this is an important text… Agree or disagree with Zagzebski’s arguments, most readers will profit from this fine work.” ~ J.A. Colombo, University of San Diego

Moral and Epistemic Virtues

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Whilst virtue ethics has long been a focus for discussion in moral philosophy, it is only recently that an analogue virtue-based theory has come to the fore in the field of epistemology. This volume brings together papers by some of the leading figures working on virtue-theoretic accounts in both ethics and epistemology, including Guy Axtell, Julia Driver, Antony Duff, Miranda Fricker, John Greco, Christopher Hookway, Michael Slote, Lawrence Solum and Linda Zagzebski. It is the first volume to combine papers on virtue ethics and virtue epistemology. This volume brings together papers by some of the leading figures working on virtue-theoretic accounts in both ethics and epistemology. A collection of cutting edge articles by leading figures in the field of virtue theory including Guy Axtell, Julia Driver, Antony Duff and Miranda Fricker. The first book to combine papers on both virtue ethics and virtue epistemology. Deals with key topics in recent epistemological and ethical debate. ~ Product Description