The Fundamentals of Ethics

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In The Fundamentals of Ethics, Second Edition, author Russ Shafer-Landau employs a uniquely engaging writing style to introduce students to the essential ideas of moral philosophy. Offering more comprehensive coverage of the good life, normative ethics, and metaethics than any other text of its kind, this book also addresses issues that are often omitted from other texts, such as the doctrine of doing and allowing, the doctrine of double effect, ethical particularism, the desire-satisfaction theory of well-being, and moral error theory. Shafer-Landau carefully reconstructs and analyzes dozens of arguments in depth, at a level that is understandable to students with no prior philosophical background.


* Discussion questions at the end of every chapter provide students with immediate ways to test their understanding of the material

* New, real-life extended examples reinforce the importance of the theories discussed in Chapters 4, 7, 9, 10, 14, 15, and 19

* Greatly expanded coverage of moral rights (in Chapter 8) and of membership in the moral community (in Chapter 9)

* A new discussion of skepticism about morality in the Introduction

* An Instructor's Manual and Testbank on CD offers chapter summaries, more than 100 essay questions, more than 200 multiple-choice questions, and 200 PowerPoint-based lecture slides.

* A Companion Website at contains all the material from the Instructor's Manual along with students resources including 250 multiple-choice questions, a glossary, and helpful web links.

Ideal for courses in introductory ethics and contemporary moral problems, this book can be used as a stand-alone text or with the author's companion reader, The Ethical Life: Fundamental Readings in Ethics and Moral Problems, Second Edition, which offers original readings on ethical theory and contemporary moral problems.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2nd edition (July 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199773556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199773558
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.6 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces

Customer Reviews

Easy and concise. Good flow but no depth.

2 people found this helpful.
 on July 13, 2015
By Mário Kistenmacher Rodrigues
The book is really simple and easy to read. The author exposes the main approaches to ethics, presenting the underlying principles of each in concise formal statements. He always shows the advantages of each ethical theory followed by arguments against it. The last part of the book deals briefly with metaethics. I recommend for the beginner who seeks a quick and enjoyable understanding of the topic. For that same reason, one shouldn’t expect depth in the discussion, and there are very few excerpts from the classical works in moral philosophy.

Wonderful resource

 on May 5, 2017
By Shelly T
Shafer-Landau is a wonderful philosopher and writer. He breaks down the topics beautifully and simplistically. It is better for those who are looking to do more upperclasses in ethics than it is for someone just starting out in philosophy.

Read not at a text, but as an introduction

 on February 19, 2015
By William M. Freese
This book did what I needed it to do, provide me with an introduction to a broad variety of ethical philosophies. It was concise and an easy read. I see in the reviews, there are some disagreements with the author. What would a book of philosophy be if one could not disagree with some element of it? I agree that some of the positions were not properly defended when it came time for the author to attack them, but he generally acknowledged the real holders of those positions would respond to the attacks with more vigor. I felt he misused Occam’s razor, but almost everyone does, and he only did it once, so I will forgive him. If you need what I did, a quick and easy introduction to the field, this book will do well.

It is a beautiful illustration of logic

One person found this helpful.
 on August 2, 2016
By Amazon Customer
It is a beautiful illustration of logic. He weaves long-held contentions of philosophy through this rubric and engages students with mental gymnastics. I am less than half way through the book and I cannot put it down. It is great book for college students.

Five Stars

One person found this helpful.
 on February 14, 2016
By Will Simmons

Clear, Understandable, Good Overview of Each Topic

 on July 3, 2013
By Zachary Williams
This author really seems to know what he is doing, in my opinion. The book is very readable, and I never got the feeling like I was lost when going through each chapter. It is very unlike a lot of philosophy books in that the language is more simple, not so much that it is talking down to you, but very much unlike primary philosophy documents. He breaks the major ideas and arguments down and allows you to see where it does a good job as well as what its criticisms are. While it is not the most thorough in its exposition of any given topic compared to other books, this is definitely a great place to start if you want a more general outline of different areas of ethics.

Good Book

One person found this helpful.
 on July 6, 2015
By Pam B
Book was as described and was exactly what my daughter needed for her Ethics class.

Five Stars

 on July 15, 2017
By Jen
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