Normative Ethics

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Westview Press, 1998 - Philosophy - 337 pages
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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.

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Part i
Doing Harm
Other Constraints
Further Factors
Deontological Foundations
Suggested Readings
About the Book and Author

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Page 135 - And the other thing she's had has been a positive gift for being in the right place at the right time — or the wrong place, at the wrong time, from our perspective.
Page 35 - ... deception, but the result is the same: the businessman's happiness is completely dependent upon his widespread misapprehension of his circumstances. If he knew the truth about his colleagues, his wife, and his children, he would be miserable. Kagan concludes the discussion of this example by saying, 'In thinking about this man's life, it is difficult to believe that it is all a life could be, that this life has gone about as well as a life could go. Yet this seems to be the very conclusion mental...
Page 6 - That is, in the course of defending a given theory about the foundations of normative ethics, when we try to explain why it is that the various features...
Page 61 - ... the view that an act is right if and only if it leads to the greatest total amount of well-being.
Page 63 - I have denned consequentialism as the view that an act is right if and only if it leads to the best consequences.
Page 226 - Obviously enough, if people were to obey this rule, if they did perform the acts with the very best results overall, then the results would have to be better than they would be were people to obey some alternative rule which gave different instructions.
Page 54 - Now in point of fact, the notion of fairness is somewhat amorphous and seems to pick out different features in different contexts. Often, indeed, to say of something that it is unfair is to say nothing more than that it is illegitimate or unjustified.

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About the author (1998)

Shelly Kagan is professor of philosophy and Henry R. Luce Professor of Social Thought and Ethics at Yale University. He is the author of The Limits of Morality.

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