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The Ethical Life

Fundamental Readings in Ethics and Moral Problems

Fifth Edition

Author Russ Shafer-Landau

Publication Date - June 2020

ISBN: 9780190058265

544 pages

In Stock

A compact yet thorough collection of readings in ethical theory and contemporary moral problems - at the best price


Brief yet thorough and affordably priced, The Ethical Life: Fundamental Readings in Ethics and Moral Problems, Fifth Edition, is ideal for courses in introductory ethics and contemporary moral problems. Featuring forty-two readings divided into four parts, it introduces students to ethical theory and a wide range of moral issues. The essays include selections from such historically influential philosophers as Aristotle, Hume, Kant, and Mill alongside work by contemporary philosophers like Philippa Foot, Robert Nozick, Peter Singer, and Judith Jarvis Thomson. Detailed reading introductions provide helpful contextual information.

New to this Edition

  • Article on moral knowledge commissioned just for TEL and written by Sarah McGrath, an expert on issues of moral knowledge.
  • Article by Mary Midgley on cultural relativism
  • Part IV now includes a new section on Immigration, with contrasting papers by Christopher Heath Wellman, who argues for the right of legitimate states to close their borders in various ways, and Michael Huemer, who argues for an open borders policy for refugees and non-refugees alike.
  • Also new to Part IV: contributions by John Broome on climate change, Douglas Husak on the illegitimacy of drug laws, Onora O'Neill on Kantian approaches to famine relief, Peter Carruthers on the moral status of animals, and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham City Jail.


  • Contains 42 readings carefully selected for their engaging style and their accessibility and organized into four parts
  • Provides thorough coverage in a compact format
  • Can be used as a stand-alone reader or as a companion volume to Shafer-Landau's Fundamentals of Ethics, Fifth Edition, textbook
  • Includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter
  • Supported by a comprehensive ancillary program

About the Author(s)

Russ Shafer-Landau is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author or editor of several books including The Fundamentals of Ethics, Fifth Edition (OUP, 2020), A Concise Introduction to Ethics (OUP, 2019), and Living Ethics (OUP, 2018). He is also the editor of Oxford Studies in Metaethics.

Table of Contents

    A Note on the Companion Volume

    PART I The Good Life
    1. John Stuart Mill Hedonism
    2. Robert Nozick The Experience Machine
    3. Chris Heathwood Faring Well and Getting What You Want
    4. Brad Hooker The Elements of Well-Being
    5. Susan Wolf Happiness and Meaning: Two Aspects of the Good Life

    PART II Normative Ethics Theories of Right Conduct
    6. Plato Euthyphro
    7. Thomas Aquinas Natural Law
    8. John Stuart Mill Utilitarianism
    9. Immanuel Kant The Good Will and the Categorical Imperative
    10. Thomas Hobbes Leviathan
    11. W. D. Ross What Makes Right Acts Right?
    12. Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics
    13. Hilde Lindemann What Is Feminist Ethics?

    PART III Metaethics The Status of Morality
    14. David Hume Moral Distinctions not Derived from Reason
    15. J. L. Mackie The Subjectivity of Values
    16. Gilbert Harman Ethics and Observation
    17. Mary Midgley Trying Out One's New Sword*
    18. David Enoch Why I am an Objectivist about Ethics (and Why You Are, Too)
    19. Sarah McGrath Moral Knowledge*

    PART IV Moral Problems
    20. Kwame Anthony Appiah What Will Future Generations Condemn Us For?
    21. Peter Singer The Singer Solution to World Poverty
    22. Onora O'Neill A Kantian Approach to Famine Relief*

    23 James Rachels The Morality of Euthanasia
    24. John Harris The Survival Lottery

    25. Christopher Heath Wellman Refugees and the Right to Control Immigration*
    26. Michael Huemer Is There a Right to Immigrate?*

    27. Peter Carruthers Against the Moral Standing of Animals*
    28. Alastair Norcross Puppies, Pigs and People: Eating Meat and Marginal Cases

    29. John Broome The Public and Private Morality of Climate Change*
    30. Thomas Hill, Jr. Ideals of Human Excellence and Preserving Natural Environments

    31. Judith Jarvis Thomson A Defense of Abortion
    32. Don Marquis Why Abortion is Immoral
    33. Philippa Foot Abortion and the Doctrine of Double Effect

    34. Igor Primoratz Justifying Legal Punishment
    35. Stephen Nathanson An Eye for an Eye?

    36. Jeff McMahan Why Gun 'Control' Is Not Enough
    37. Michael Huemer Is There a Right to Own a Gun?

    38. Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter from Birmingham City Jail*
    39. Daniel Hausman Affirmative Action: Bad Arguments and Some Good Ones
    40. Elizabeth Anderson The Future of Racial Integration

    41. Douglas Husak In Favor of Drug Decriminalization*
    42. Peter de Marneffe Against the Legalization of Drugs

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