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Ethical Choices

An Introduction to Moral Philosophy with Cases

Richard Burnor and Yvonne Raley

Publication Date - August 2010

ISBN: 9780195332957

320 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $35.95

A concise and accessible introductory ethics survey, featuring a large variety of real-life case studies


Ideal for students with little or no background in philosophy, Ethical Choices: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy with Cases provides a concise, balanced, and highly accessible introduction to ethics. Featuring an especially lucid and engaging writing style, the text surveys a wide range of ethical theories and perspectives including consequentialist ethics, deontological ethics, natural and virtue ethics, the ethics of care, and ethics and religion.

Each chapter of Ethical Choices also includes compelling case studies that are carefully matched with the theoretical material. Many of these cases address issues that students can relate directly to their own lives: the drinking age, student credit card debt, zero tolerance policies, grade inflation, and video games. Other cases discuss current topics like living wills, obesity, human trafficking, torture "lite," universal health care, and just-war theory. The cases provide students with practice in addressing real-life moral choices, as well as opportunities to evaluate the usefulness and applicability of each ethical theory. Every case study concludes with a set of Thought Questions to guide students as they reflect upon the issues raised by that case.

Ethical Choices is enhanced by several pedagogical features. These include summaries at the end of each section, lists of key terms, questions For Reflection and Discussion at the end of each chapter, Guidelines for a Case Study Analysis, and suggestions For Further Reading that include Internet sources. Starred sections indicate more advanced material that may be included at the instructor's discretion. A companion website at www.oup.com/us/burnor contains additional resources for both students and instructors: chapter outlines, flashcards of key terms, sets of Helpful Hints to further aid students in mastering the material, and an additional chapter on our Moral Obligations Towards the Future.

About the Author(s)

Richard Burnor is Professor of Philosophy at Felician College. Dr. Burnor has also published articles in the philosophy of science, metaphysics, and teaching philosophy.

Yvonne Raley is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Felician College, and has published articles in metaphysics and ethics.


"The discussions of the standard arguments in moral theory are without exception clear and accurate. The case studies are engaging and will without a doubt be pedagogically useful. Students will be left with a profound sense of the complexity of moral reasoning."--Robert Talisse, Vanderbilt University

"This text is clearly superior . . . in nearly every respect. The authors' commitment to looking at each side of the issue is really quite impressive and exactly what is needed to develop our students' ability to think less one-sidedly. I would be quite likely to adopt this text. I, like many, have long-waited an alternative to Rachels: The Elements of Moral Philosophy. I believe that this may be it."--Sarah Black Jones, Northern Michigan University

Table of Contents

    Each chapter includes a "For Reflection and Discussion" section.
    Preface to the Instructor
    Guidelines for a Case Study Analysis
    Introduction: On the Practical Importance of Ethics
    Chapter One: The Nature of Morality
    I. What is Ethics?
    II. Moral Claims
    III. Non-Moral Normative Claims
    IV. Characterizing Moral Claims
    Case 1: The Real Price of Coffee
    Case 2: Jurassic Kitty: Should I Clone My Cat?
    Chapter Two: Moral and Non-moral Values
    I. The Role of Values
    II. Fundamental and Instrumental Values
    III. Explanation and Fundamental Values
    Values Exercise
    Case 1: Mr. Research
    Case 2: Sex Selection
    Chapter Three: Personal Autonomy and Moral Agency
    I. Introduction
    II. Personal Autonomy
    III. Exercising Moral Agency
    IV. Value-Free and Value-Guided Autonomy
    Case 1: Elizabeth Bouvia
    Case 2: Should the Drinking Age be 18?
    Case 3: The Living Will
    Case 4: Buy Now, Pay Later: Student Credit Card Debt
    Chapter Four: Moral Relativism
    I. Introduction
    II. The Claims of Moral Relativism
    III. Evaluating Subjectivism
    IV. Considerations in Support of Popular Relativism
    V. Arguments against Relativism
    VI. A Matter of Tolerance
    VII. Can Moral Relativism Supply Something that Objectivism Cannot?
    Case 1: Female Genital Mutilation
    Case 2: Religious Exemption and the Death of Matthew Swan
    Case 3: Women in the Middle East
    Chapter Five: Moral Reasoning and Ethical Theories
    I. Introduction
    II. Moral Reasoning, Principles and Judgments
    III. Fundamental Moral Principles
    IV. Ethical Theories and their Assessment
    Case 1: Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner
    Case 2: Who's Responsible for Obesity?
    Chapter Six: Consequentialist Ethics: Egoism
    I. Introduction
    II. Hedonism and Consequentialism
    III. Utility and Mill's Account of Qualities
    IV. Ethical Egoism
    V. Psychological Egoism
    Case 1: Human Trafficking
    Case 2: Sponsoring a Child
    Chapter Seven: Consequentialist Ethics: Act Utilitarianism
    I. Introduction
    II. The Theory of Act Utilitarianism
    III. Considerations Supporting Act Utilitarianism
    IV. Problems with Act Utilitarianism
    V. Beyond Classical Utilitarianism
    Case 1: Should Your Next Car be a Hybrid?
    Case 2: Factory Farming and the Suffering of Animals
    Case 3: Torture Lite
    Chapter Eight: Consequentialist Ethics: Rule Utilitarianism
    I. Introduction
    II. Rule Utilitarianism
    III. Comparing Rule Utilitarianism and Act Utilitarianism
    IV. Problems with Rule Utilitarianism
    V. The Issue of Justice
    Case 1: Zero Tolerance Policies and Student Misconduct
    Case 2: Curbing Grade Inflation
    Case 3: Global Warming and Oil
    Case 4: Stem Cells and Parkinson's Disease
    Case 5: Universal Health Care
    Chapter Nine: Deontological Ethics
    I. Introduction
    II. Ross's Ethics
    III. Kant's Theory - the Good Will
    IV. Kant's Categorical Imperative: Principle of Ends
    V. Kant's Categorical Imperative: Principle of Universal Law
    VI. Kant's Categorical Imperative: Principle of Autonomy
    VII. Criticisms of Kantian Ethics
    Case 1: A Demanding Honor Code
    Case 2: The Ayala Case
    Case 3: Internet Bride - Straight from Asia
    Case 4: A Personal Decision
    Case 5: Beefy Burgers and a Lean Future
    Chapter Ten: Natural Ethics: Natural Law and Natural Rights
    I. Introduction
    II. Natural Law Theory
    III. Addressing Moral Conflicts
    IV. Some Problems for Natural Law Theory
    V. Natural Rights
    VI. Some Distinctions
    VII. Some Concerns with Rights
    Case 1: Relieving Pain in a Dying Patient
    Case 2: Birth Control
    Case 3: Locke and Load: Lockean Rights and Gun Control
    Case 4: Just-War Theory and the Killing of Non-Combatants
    Case 5: Permanent Vegetative State: The Case of Terri Schiavo
    Chapter Eleven: Virtue Ethics
    I. Introduction
    II. A Critique of Principle-based Ethics
    III. The Heart of Virtue Ethics
    IV. Aristotle's Virtue Ethics
    V. Classifying the Virtues
    VI. Criticisms of Virtue Ethics
    Case 1: Video Games
    Case 2: Compulsive Gambling and the Internet
    Case 3: The Unlikely Rescue
    Case 4: Moral Luck
    Chapter Twelve: The Ethics of Care
    I. Introduction
    II. The Development of Care Ethics
    III. Foundations for an Ethics of Care
    IV. Care Theory and Virtue Ethics
    V. A Blueprint for Reform
    VI. Objections and Problems
    VII. A Concluding Reflection
    Case 1: Parent Responsibility Towards Their in Utero Child
    Case 2: The Nestlé Boycott
    Case 3: Absolute Poverty
    Chapter Thirteen: Ethics and Religion
    I. Introduction
    II. The Autonomy Thesis and Religion
    III. Divine Command Theory
    IV. An Alternate Dependency Account
    V. Objections and Elaborations
    VI. The Alternate Dependency Account and Completeness
    Case 1: Religious Symbols and Public Schools
    Case 2: By Divine Command?
    Case 3: A Question of Authority
    Chapter Fourteen: Ethics and Practice
    I. In Search of a Comprehensive Ethical Account
    II. The Practical Dimension: Making Moral Choices
    Case 1: Surfer, Sailor, Whistle-Blower