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Being Good

A Short Introduction to Ethics

Simon Blackburn

Publication Date - April 2003

ISBN: 9780192853776

172 pages
Paperback

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $14.95

Eminent philosopher Simon Blackburn delivers an eloquent, engaging companion to his best-selling book Think, illuminating the basic questions of ethics

Description

Writing with wit and elegance, Simon Blackburn tackles the basic questions of ethics in this lively book, highlighting the complications and troubling issues that spring from the very simple question of how we ought to live. Blackburn dissects the many common reasons for why we are skeptical about ethics. Drawing on examples from history, politics, religion and everyday personal experience, he shows how cynicism and self-consciousness can paralyze us into considering ethics a hopeless pursuit. He assures us that ethics is neither futile nor irrelevant, but an intimate part of the most important issues of living--of birth, death, happiness, desire, freedom, pleasure, and justice. Indeed, from moral dilemmas about abortion and euthanasia, to our obsession with personal rights, to our longing for a sense of meaning in life, our everyday struggles are rife with ethical issues. Blackburn distills the arguments of Hume, Kant and Aristotle down to their essences, to underscore the timeless relevance of our voice of conscience, the pitfalls of complacency, and our concerns about truth, knowledge and human progress.

Blackburn's rare combination of depth, rigor, and sparkling prose, along with his distinguished ranking among contemporary philosophers, mark Being Good as an important statement on our current disenchantment with ethics. It challenges us to take a more thoughtful reading of our ethical climate and to ponder more carefully our own standards of behavior.

Features

  • Tackles the basic questions of ethics in this lively book, highlighting the troubling issues that spring from the simple question of how we ought to live
  • Provides examples from history, politics, religion and everyday personal experience
  • Challenges us to take a more thoughtful reading of our ethical climate and to ponder more carefully our own standards of behavior

About the Author(s)

Simon Blackburn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. Until recently he was Edna J. Doury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, and from 1969 to 1999 was a Fellow and Tutor at Pembroke College, Oxford. He is the author of The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (1994) and the best-selling Think (OUP, 1999), among other books.

Reviews

"A brief introduction to ethics, one that plays lightly and gracefully over a number of philosophical themes, including the relationship between being good and living well."--Jim Holt, The New Yorker

"A slender but rich meditation on why humans should choose to behave well when the possibilities for doing evil are so abundant.... Highly accessible, and highly rewarding."--Kirkus

"Simon Blackburn's short book takes the big moral questions head on and does so brilliantly...a witty, vivid write with an enviable popular touch...this is a wonderfully enlightening book."--Ben Rogers, Sunday Telegraph

Table of Contents

    Preface
    List of Illustrations
    Introduction
    Seven Threats to Ethics
    1. The Threat of the Death of God
    2. The Threat of Relativism
    3. The Threat of Egoism
    4. The Threat from Evolutionary Theory
    5. The Threat of Determinism and Futility
    6. The Threat of Unreasonable Demands
    7. The Threat of False Consciousness
    Some Ethical Ideas
    8. Birth
    9. Death
    10. Desire and the Meaning of Life
    11. Pleasure
    12. The Greatest Happiness of the Greatest Number
    13. Freedom from the Bad
    14. Freedom and Paternalism
    15. Rights and Natural Rights
    Foundations?
    16. Reasons and Foundations
    17. Living Well and Doing Good
    18. The Categorical Imperative
    19. Contracts and Discourse
    20. The Common Point of View
    21. Confidence Restored
    Further Reading
    Index