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Whatever Happened to Good and Evil?

Russ Shafer-Landau

Publication Date - October 2003

ISBN: 9780195168730

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

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $49.99


Since September 11, 2001, many people in the United States have been more inclined to use the language of good and evil, and to be more comfortable with the idea that certain moral standards are objective (true independently of what anyone happens to think of them). Some people, especially those who are not religious, are not sure how to substantiate this view. Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? provides a basis for exploring these doubts and ultimately defends the objectivity of ethics. Engaging and accessible, it is the first introduction to meta-ethics written especially for students and general readers with no philosophical background. Focusing on the issues at the foundation of morality, it poses such questions as: How can we know what is right and wrong? Does ethical objectivity require God? Why should I be moral? Where do moral standards come from? What is a moral value, and how can it exist in a scientific world? Do cultural diversity and persistent moral disagreement support moral skepticism?
Writing in a clear and lively style and employing many examples to illustrate theoretical arguments, Russ Shafer-Landau identifies the many weaknesses in contemporary moral skepticism and devotes considerable attention to presenting, and critiquing, the most difficult objections to his view. Also included in the book are a helpful summary of all the major arguments covered, as well as a glossary of key philosophical terms. Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? is ideal for a variety of philosophy courses and compelling reading for anyone interested in ethics.


"The idea behind this book was ingeniously conceived, and the execution of that idea is handled brilliantly. This is a superb book. It is philosophically astute, passionately argued, and written in a wonderfully accessible and eloquent style. I've never seen a better introduction to meta-ethics."--Brad Hooker, University of Reading

"This is an excellent introductory textbook on moral relativism and objectivity. It is concise, well-written, well-organized, and well-reasoned. It fills a real gap in the literature."--Paul K. Moser, Loyola University of Chicago

"The topic is timely, the execution is admirable, and there is no other book quite like it. I would gladly assign it to my students and recommend it to other teachers."--Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Dartmouth College

Table of Contents

    1. The Nature of the Problem
    2. The Philosophical Terrain
    3. Moral Error
    4. Moral Equivalence
    5. Moral Progress and Moral Comparison
    6. Dogmatism
    7. Tolerance
    8. Arbitrariness
    9. Contradiction and Disagreement
    10. Relativism and Contradiction
    11. Is Moral Skepticism Self-Refuting?
    12. How Ethical Objectivism Solves the Problems of Moral Skepticism
    13. Universality, Objectivity, Absolutism
    14. The (Un)Importance of Moral Disagreement
    15. Does Ethical Objectivity Require God?
    16. Where Do Moral Standards Come From?
    17. Values in a Scientific World
    18. Moral Knowledge I: Four Skeptical Arguments
    19. Moral Knowledge II: The Regress Argument
    20. Why Be Moral?
    Synopsis of the Major Arguments

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