Normative Ethics (Dimensions of Philosophy)

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Providing a thorough introduction to current philosophical views on morality, Normative Ethics examines an act’s rightness or wrongness in light of such factors as consequences, harm, and consent. Shelly Kagan offers a division between moral factors and theoretical foundations that reflects the actual working practices of contemporary moral philosophers.The first half of the book presents a systematic survey of the basic normative factors, focusing on controversial questions concerning the precise content of each factor, its scope and significance, and its relationship to other factors. The second half of the book then examines the competing theories about the foundations of normative ethics, theories that attempt to explain why the basic normative factors have the moral significance that they do.Intended for upper-level or graduate students of philosophy, this book should also appeal to the general reader looking for a clearly written overview of the basic principles of moral philosophy.

Product Details

  • Series: Dimensions of Philosophy
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Westview Press (November 14, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813308461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813308463
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds

Customer Reviews

The Best Overview of Normative Ethics Available

15 people found this helpful.
 on November 7, 2011
By Donald C. Hubin
I have used Kagan’s Normative Ethics, supplemented by several primary sources, for over a decade in my mid-level moral philosophy course that focuses on normative ethics. It is, in my opinion, the best overview of normative ethics available. It is not a moral problems text and it doesn’t discuss metaethical issues except to clarify what they are and (largely) set them aside. It is relentlessly focused on normative ethical theory. The organization of the book is excellent, beginning the substantive discussion with theories of individual well-being. It is not just plausible forms of consequentialism that need to have an account of individual well-being. Commonsense morality, too, and many nonconsequentialist theories of morality take the promotion of individual well-being to be ONE relevant moral consideration. And deontological theories that impose a constraint on causing (or intending) harm, will need an account of harm, which (most plausibly) involves an account of well-being. So, this is a good starting place. The development from there can be seen as a very logically ordered discussion of a series of questions: Is individual well-being all that matters to the value of a state of affair from a moral perspective? If not, what other factors are relevant: equality in the distribution of well-being, preference for the benefit of those worst off, distribution in accordance with desert, merit, or entitlement? Then, is the promotion of what is valuable from a moral perspective all that matters in determining how we should act? If not, what else is relevant? Are there (non-value-based) constraints on promoting good outcomes–constraints against doing/intending harm, lying, breaking promises, etc.? If so, what is the “shape” of these constraints and how are they to be justified. If there is a standing moral reason to promote the good, within whatever moral constraints exist, does this lead to morality “demanding too much”? And, finally, then, Kagan turns his attention to moral foundations: how are we to justify whatever moral factors are relevant.

Great intro to current Moral Philosophies

13 people found this helpful.
 on March 22, 2012
By John Grove
Most everyone who was introduced to Yale Professor Shelly Kagan was introduced from his brilliant debate with William Lane Craig where he absolutely shined. In fact, I was so impressed from his debating skills I wanted to read his books.

A Great Intro to Moral Philosophy for LD Debaters

14 people found this helpful.
 on May 5, 1999
This book presents moral theory and the factors involved in an excellent format, without the distraction of constant references to other philosophers. Kagan’s writing is easily accessible and explains ethics in a logical fashion. Terms are clearly defined and explained, and there is a complete index of references in the back once you’re ready to move on to primary source philosophy. A must read for any LD debater, especially when debating resolutions concerning morality.

College Text Book

 on January 7, 2017
By Amazon Customer
This is for my Moral Philosophy class at Ohio State University. Great price!

Great rental Book

 on August 24, 2014
By Loretta Fontenot
Great rental and price! Book in excellent condition.

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