We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

E-book purchase
Choose a subscription

Downloaded copy on your device does not expire. Includes 4 years of Bookshelf Online.


Where applicable, tax will be added to the above price prior to payment.

E-book purchasing help


A 21st Century Ethical Toolbox

Fifth Edition

Author Anthony Weston and Bob Fischer

Publication Date - 18 April 2023

ISBN: 9780197617557

528 pages
6 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

Engaging and accessible coverage of contemporary moral issues with experiential and applied activities throughout.


Thoroughly optimistic, A 21st Century Ethical Toolbox, Fifth Edition, invites students to approach ethical issues with a reconstructive intent--to make room for more and better options than the rigid "pro" and "con" positions that have developed around tough problems like abortion, climate change, and racism. Employing an accessible, consistently engaging writing style, Anthony Weston and Bob Fischer cover the skills that are vital to making real progress in ethics, including critical thinking, creative problem-solving, moral vision, and genuine dialogue. Provocative selections from a wide range of philosophers, essayists, activists, and students are interwoven with the authors' own discussions.

Now for the first time, a comprehensive suite of digital resources is available for this title, including an Instructor's Manual with chapter outlines and lecture suggestions, a Test Bank including multiple choice and essay questions, and Suggested Resources and Web Links. The text is further enhanced by extensive "Exercises and Notes" sections at the end of each chapter and new and expanded "Going Farther" sections between many chapters. Join instructors and students around the country who are using the experiential and applied activities inspired by this "toolbox" of skills to design interactive and collaborative ethics courses.

New to this Edition

  • New readings begin right in Chapter 1 with a broad look at ethical learnings from the pandemic.
  • Extended and updated coverage of systemic racism and the struggle for racial justice.
  • Extended and updated coverage of the deepening environmental crisis and the relationship between humans and other animals
  • Extended and updated coverage of gender and sexuality.
  • Extended and updated coverage of abortion, contraception, and the beginnings and ends of life.
  • New co-author Bob Fischer has simplified and streamlined the book's structure: Going Farther and Using Your Tools features are condensed into Going Deeper features, which are both shorter and more intamtely tied to the theme of the chapter
  • For the first time, this book offers a comprehensive digital suite of learning materials, including an Instructor's Manual; Class Exercises and Lecture Suggestions; Multiple-Choice, Fill-in-the-Blank, and Essay Questions; Lecture Powerpoints; Suggested Readings and Web Links; and Further Notes for Teachers to supplament the Appendix "Teaching Like a Pragmatist"


  • A uniquely positive, constructive, and practical approach to ethics and contemporary moral issues
  • Works from the hypothesis that it is actually possible to make progress on the ethical issues of the day: seeing farther into the issues; understanding each other better; and devising new, mutually agreeable ways forward, while strengthening and enlivening the ethical community that enables us to take up any issue constructively in the first place
  • A conversational style and readings drawn from non-academic sources of high relevance to daily life make this text accessible and engaging to today's students
  • Covers a far wider range of skills than traditional ethics texts
  • Traditional and non-traditional readings include a variety of works ranging from Aristotle to Alice Walker
  • Includes an in-book Teacher's Guide, which pushes for a more active and collaborative classroom

About the Author(s)

ANTHONY WESTON is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Environmental Studies at Elon University. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Mobilizing the Green Imagination (2012) and A Practical Companion to Ethics, Fifth Edition (OUP, 2020).

BOB FISCHER is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Texas State University and Director of the Society for the Study of Ethics and Animals. He is the author of Animal Ethics (2021), College Ethics, Second Edition (OUP, 2020), and editor of The Routledge Handbook of Animal Ethics (2019).

Table of Contents

    Preface to 5th edition
    PART ONE: Embracing Ethics
    1. What is Ethics?
    Reading 1.1: Weston & Fischer, “Ethics after Covid-19”
    2. Ethical Short-Circuits and How to Avoid Them
    Reading 2.1: Reni Eddo-Lodge, “Color-Blindness and Other Illusions”
    3. Ethics and Religion
    Reading 3.1: Luke Timothy Johnson, “Homosexuality and the Church”
    PART TWO: Moral Values
    4. Taking Values Seriously
    Reading 4.1 Alice Walker, “Am I Blue?” (with commentary)
    Reading 4.2: Bertha Alvarez Manninen, “The Replaceable Fetus”
    5. The Ethics of the Person
    Reading 5.1: Philip Hallie, from “Le Chambon”
    Reading 5.2: Immanuel Kant, from Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals
    Reading 5.3: from The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights
    6. The Ethics of Happiness
    Reading 6.1: J. S. Mill, from Utilitarianism
    Reading 6.2: Esperanza Guisán, “An Ethic of Liberty and Solidarity”
    7. The Ethics of Virtue
    Reading 7.1: Alyse Spiehler, “Living Virtue”
    Reading 7.2: Aristotle, from Nichomachean Ethics
    Reading 7.3: Lao Tzu, from the Tao Te Ching
    Reading 7.4: John Sullivan, from Living Large
    8. The Ethics of Relationship
    Reading 8.1: Nel Noddings, from Caring
    Reading 8.2: Margaret Urban Walker, “Toward an inter-personal ethics”
    Reading 8.3: Aldo Leopold, “The Land Ethic”
    PART THREE: Skills for Ethical Practice
    9. Minding the Evidence
    Reading 9.1: Martin Fowler, The Ethical Practice of Critical Thinking
    10. Judging Like Cases Alike
    Reading 10.1: from Harry Gensler, Ethics and the Golden Rule
    Reading 10.2: Amy Glaser, “Beyond Adultism”
    11. Dialogue
    Reading 11.1: Mary Jacksteit and Adrienne Kaufmann, “The Common Ground Network for Life and Choice”
    Reading 11.2: Sophie-Grace Chappell, “How (Not) to Talk About, and To, Trans Women”
    12. When Values Conflict
    Reading 12.1: Roger Gottlieb, “Can We Talk? Understanding the 'Other Side' in the Animal-Rights Debate”
    13. Opening Up Problems
    Reading 13.1: Fran Peavey, “Strategic Questioning”
    14. Moral Vision
    Reading 14.1: William McDonough, “Design for a New World”
    End Matter: Resources
    Eight Maxims for Making a Moral Difference
    1. You Can Do It
    Reading M1: Danusha Goska, “Living Ideals”
    2. There Are Many Ways
    Reading M2.1: Ian Frazier, “On the Rez”
    Reading M2.2: Mariam Duindam-Kazanjian, “The Sins of the Father”
    3. Making a Difference... as a Student
    Reading M3.1: Ramona Ilea and Monica Janzen, “This Means You!”
    4. Becoming an Ally
    Reading M4.1: Amelie Lamont, “Guide to Allyship”
    5. Creative Leveraging
    Box: The Good Banker
    6. It's Probably Complicated
    Reading M6.1: Gina Crosley-Corcoran, “How to explain white privilege to a broke white person”
    7. There is No Way to Ethics; Ethics is the Way
    Reading M7.1: Charles Eisenstein, from “Standing Rock: A Change of Heart”
    8. Bring Your Whole Toolbox
    Some Whole-Course Projects
    A. Framing a Student Code of Ethics
    B. Class Ethical Commitments
    C. Personal Ethical Mission Statements
    D. Ethical Change Projects
    Some Notes for Teachers: Teaching Like a Pragmatist