Consider Ethics: Theory, Readings, and Contemporary Issues, 3rd edition

  • Bruce N. Waller


Offering a balance of theory and applications and a mix of text and readings, Consider Ethics begins with chapters covering ethical theory, each of which is followed by related, classical readings. The book concludes with an examination of six contemporary ethical issues presented in a pro/con format with introductory material that places each issue in context.


Featuring selections from the world’s most influential philosophers, this combination of primary texts and explanatory pedagogy presents the material in a clear, accessible way that does not sacrifice rigor. Making connections among different ethical theories throughout, the text helps students to engage the subject matter and apply theories to important contemporary ethical issues.

Table of contents

1. Thinking About Ethics.

            Ethics and Critical Thinking.

            Studying Ethics.

            God's Commandments and Ethics.

            Religion and Ethics.

            Reading: Plato, Euthyphro.


2. Ethics and Reason.

            Reasoning about Ethics.

            Elements of Kantian Ethics.

            Criticisms of Kantian Ethics.


            Reading: Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals.


3. Ethics and Emotions.

            Follow Your Reason or Follow Your Heart?

            Objective and Subjective Feelings.



            Reading: Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature.


4. Utilitarian Ethics.

            Utilitarian Theory.

            Act- vs. Rule-Utilitarians.

            Utiliatarians and the Quality of Pleasures.

            Criticisms of Utilitarian Ethics.

            Nozick’s Challenge to Utilitarian Ethics

            The Uses of Utilitarian Ethics.

            Opposition to Utilitarianism.

            Reading: Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.

            Reading: Mill, What Utilitarianism Is.

5. Social Contract Ethics.

            Framing the Social Contract.

            Fairness and Social Contract Theory: John Rawls.

            Gauthier's Contractarian Ethics.

            The Social Contract Myth and its Underlying Assumptions.


            Reading: Hobbes, Leviathan.


6. Egoism, Relativism, and Pragmatism.




            Readings: Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope.


7. Virtue Ethics.

            The Distinctive Focus of Virtue Ethics.

            The Strengths of Virtue Ethics.

            Criticisms of Virtue Theory.

            Virtue Theory and Medicine.

            Reading: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.


8. Care Ethics.

            The Neglect of Women's Ethical Views.

            The Care Perspectives on Ethics.

            Women and Ethics.

            Reading: Baier, The Need for More than Justice.


9. The Scope of Morality.

            Who is Due Moral Consideration?

            Moral Agents.

            Darwin and the Moral Status of Nonhuman Animals.

            Reading: Darwin, The Descent of Man.

            Reading: Frans de Waal, Primates and Philosophers.


10. Ethical NonObjectivism.

            The Nature of Ethical Nonobjectivism.

            Arguments for Ethical Nonobjectivism.

            The Continuing Struggle Between Objectivists and Nonobjectivists.

            Reading: Ayer, Language, Truth, and Logic.


11. Moral Realism.

            Contemporary Moral Realism.

            Moral Realism and the Argument from Simplicity.

            Moral Facts and Scientific Revolutions.

            Two Ways that Moral Realism Might Fail.

            Reading: Smith, Realism.


12. How Hard is Ethics?

            The Demands of Ethical Living.

            Comparing Ethical Systems on the Basis of Difficulty.

            Duty and Feelings.

            Reading: Mencius, Book of Mencius.


13. Free Will.



            Determinism and Free Will.

            Libertarian Free Will and the Rejection of Determinism.

            Reading: Wolf, Asymmetrical Freedom.


14. Freedom, Moral Responsibility, and Ethics.

            Types of Responsibility.

            Moral Responsibility and the Utility of Punishment.

            Conditions for Moral Responsibility.

            Moral Responsibility and Ethics.


            Reading: Nagel, Moral Luck.



15.  The Death Penalty.

            The Death Penalty Should Be Abolished – Stephen Bright

            The Death Penalty is Morally Legitimate – Louis Pojman



16.  Abortion

            Abortion is Immoral – Don Marquis

            Most Abortions Are Morally Legitimate – Bonnie Steinbock


17:  Animal Rights

            Nonhuman animals have no basic rights – Richard Posner

            Nonhuman Animals Have Important rights – Peter Singer                                     



18:  Homosexual Sex                                                                                                         

            Homosexual sex is wrong -- John Finnis                                                                   

            Homosexual relations are morally legitimate -- John Corvino                                      



19:  What Are Our Global Obligations to the Impoverished?

            We have a limited moral obligation to help impoverished people in other countries -- Thomas Nagel

            We have a very strong moral obligation to help impoverished people in other countries -- Thomas Pogge   



20:  Can Terrorism Ever Be Justified?                                                                            

            Terrorism is always wrong -- Tony Coady                                                

            Terrorism might sometimes be justified -- Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez                   







Published by Pearson (November 24th 2010) - Copyright © 2011