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

The Moral Life

An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature

Fifth Edition

Edited by Louis P. Pojman and Lewis Vaughn

Publication Date - September 2013

ISBN: 9780199950850

944 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $87.95

Combines classic and contemporary philosophical readings with vibrant literary selections to deepen students' understanding of moral concepts and issues


Ideal for introductory ethics courses, The Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature, Fifth Edition, brings together an extensive and varied collection of ninety-one classical and contemporary readings on ethical theory and practice. Integrating literature with philosophy in an innovative way, this unique anthology uses literary works to enliven and make concrete the ethical theory or applied issues addressed. It also emphasizes the personal dimension of ethics, which is often ignored or minimized in ethics anthologies. The readings are enhanced by chapter introductions, study questions, suggestions for further reading, and biographical sketches.

The fifth edition adds ten new readings, eight of which appear in two new chapters: Feminist Ethics and the Ethics of Care and Global Economic Justice. An updated Companion Website at www.oup.com/us/pojman provides self-quizzes, essay questions, and helpful links for students and reading summaries, a test bank, and PowerPoint-based lecture slides for instructors.

New to this Edition

  • A new chapter on feminist ethics and the ethics of care. The new readings are Alison Jaggar, "Feminist Ethics"; Jan Crosthwaite, "Gender and Bioethics"; Annette C. Baier, "The Need for More than Justice"; and Virginia Held, "The Ethics of Care."
  • A new chapter on global economic justice. The new readings: Garrett Hardin,"Living on a Lifeboat"; William W. Murdoch and Allan Oaten, "A Critique of Lifeboat Ethics"; Peter Singer, "Famine, Affluence, and Morality"; and Louis P. Pojman, "World Hunger and Population."
  • Two new selections added to existing chapters: Susan Sherwin, "Abortion through a Feminist Ethics Lens" and James Rachels, "The Divine Command Theory."
  • A more logical organization of the chapters "Virtue Ethics" and "Virtues and Vices."

About the Author(s)

The late Louis P. Pojman was Professor of Philosophy at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is the author or editor of more than thirty books including Classics of Philosophy, Third Edition (OUP, 2010).

Lewis Vaughn is the author or coauthor of several books including Bioethics, Second Edition, and Contemporary Moral Arguments, Second Edition, both published in 2012 by Oxford University Press.

Previous Publication Date(s)

April 2010
December 2006
August 1999


"The Moral Life is the best book I've ever used to teach introductory moral philosophy, anywhere. In fact, it is quite common for my students to report to me that they have kept the book after the course has ended because they are fascinated by the various readings."--Neil Delaney, University of Notre Dame

"Enticing, fresh, and classic."--Annette Mendola, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

"An incredible book. I would use no other. Students love it as much as I do."--Patricia Wheeler, Woodland Community College

"The organization is stellar and the selections are extremely unique. The test bank is truly incredible." --Charles J. Horn, University of Kentucky

Table of Contents

    *=New to this Edition
    Each chapter ends with Further Readings.
    Introduction: On the Nature of Morality
    1. What Is the Purpose of Morality?
    William Golding, Lord of the Flies: A Moral Allegory
    Louis P. Pojman, On the Nature and Purpose of Morality: Reflections on William Golding's Lord of the Flies
    Thomas Hobbes, On the State of Nature
    2. Good and Evil
    Herman Melville, Billy Budd
    Fyodor Dostoevsky, Why Is There Evil?
    William Styron, Sophie's Choice
    Philip Hallie, From Cruelty to Goodness
    Stanley Benn, Wickedness
    Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
    Richard Taylor, On the Origin of Good and Evil
    3. Is Everything Relative?
    Herodotus, Custom Is King
    Ruth Benedict, The Case for Moral Relativism
    James Rachels, Why Morality Is Not Relative
    Jean Bethke Elshtain, Judge Not?
    Mary Midgley, Trying Out One's New Sword
    Henrick Ibsen, The Enemy of the People
    4. Utilitarianism
    Seaman Holmes and the Longboat of William Brown, Reported by John William Wallace
    Jeremy Bentham, Classical Utilitarianism
    John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism Refined
    Kai Nielsen, A Defense of Utilitarianism
    Bernard Williams, Against Utilitarianism
    Ursula Le Guin, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
    5. Deontological Ethics
    Immanuel Kant, iThe Moral Law
    William K. Frankena, Kant's Theory
    W. D. Ross, Intuitionism
    R. M. MacIver, The Deep Beauty of the Golden Rule
    Richard Whatley, A Critique of the Golden Rule
    Ambrose Bierce, A Horseman in the Sky
    Charles Fried, The Evil of Lying
    Plato, Does Morality Depend on Religion?
    * James Rachels, The Divine Command Theory
    Thomas Nagel,Moral Luck
    * Carl Dennis, New Year's Eve
    6. Virtue Ethics
    Aristotle, Virtue Ethics
    Alasdair MacIntyre, The Virtues
    Bernard Mayo, Virtue and the Moral Life
    J.O. Urmson, Saints and Heroes
    Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Great Stone Face
    William K. Frankena, A Critique of Virtue-Based Ethical Systems
    Jesus of Nazareth, The Sermon on the Mount; The Good Samaritan
    Leo Tolstoy, How Much Land Does a Man Need? Greed
    Immanuel Kant, Jealousy, Malice, and Ingratitude
    Martin Gansberg, Moral Cowardice
    Epictetus and Others, The Stoic Catechism
    Vice Admiral James Stockdale, The World of Epictetus: Courage and Endurance
    * 7. Feminist Ethics and the Ethics of Care
    * Alison M. Jaggar, Feminist Ethics
    * Jan Crosthwaite, Gender and Bioethics
    * Annette C. Baier, The Need for More than Justice
    * Virginia Held, The Ethics of Care
    8. Ethics and Egoism: Why Should We Be Moral?
    Plato, The Ring of Gyges
    Ayn Rand, In Defense of Ethical Egoism
    Louis P. Pojman, Egoism and Altruism: A Critique of Ayn Rand
    James Rachels, A Critique of Ethical Egoism
    9. Does Life Have Meaning?
    Voltaire, The Good Brahmin
    Epicurus, Hedonism
    Albert Camus, Life Is Absurd
    Louis P. Pojman, Religion Gives Meaning to Life
    Viktor Frankl, The Human Search for Meaning: Reflections on Auschwitz
    Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, The Four Noble Truths
    Bertrand Russell, Reflections on Suffering
    10. Freedom, Autonomy, and Self-Respect
    Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream
    Stanley Milgram, An Experiment in Autonomy
    Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism Is a Humanism
    Thomas E. Hill, Jr., Servility and Self-Respect
    Kurt Vonnegut, Harrison Bergeron
    PART IV. APPLIED ETHICS: Moral Problems
    11. Sex, Love, and Marriage
    Immanuel Kant, On the Place of Sex in Human Existence
    John McMurtry, Monogamy: A Critique
    Michael D. Bayles, Marriage, Love, and Procreation: A Critique of McMurtry
    Bonnie Steinbock, What's Wrong with Adultery?
    C. S. Lewis, We Have No "Right to Happiness"
    Jane English, What Do Grown Children Owe Their Parents?
    Michael Levin, Why Homosexuality Is Abnormal
    John Corvino, A Defense of Homosexuality
    12. Is Abortion Morally Permissible?
    Don Marquis, Why Abortion Is Immoral
    Judith Jarvis Thomson, A Defense of Abortion
    Mary Anne Warren, Abortion Is Morally Permissible
    Jane English, The Moderate Position: Beyond the Personhood Argument
    * Susan Sherwin, Abortion through a Feminist Ethics Lens
    13. The Morality of Euthanasia
    Dan W. Brock, Voluntary Active Euthanasia
    J. Gay-Williams, The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia
    James Rachels, Active and Passive Euthanasia
    14. Our Duties to Animals
    George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant
    Peter Singer, Animal Liberation: All Animals Are Equal
    Carl Cohen, The Case Against Animal Rights
    15. Our Duties to the Environment
    Robert Heilbroner, What Has Posterity Ever Done for Me?
    Garrett Hardin, The Tragedy of the Commons
    William F. Baxter, People or Penguins: The Case for Optimal Pollution
    16. Global Economic Justice
    * Garrett Hardin, Living on a Lifeboat
    * William W. Murdoch and Allan Oaten, A Critique of Lifeboat Ethics
    * Peter Singer, Famine, Affluence, and Morality
    * Louis P. Pojman, World Hunger and Population
    Appendix: How to Read and Write a Philosophy Paper

Related Titles