Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Mon Oct 21, 2019 6:27 pm





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
Ethics book suggestions 
Author Message
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Masters


Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 450
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Thanks: 5
Thanked: 43 times in 34 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Ethics book suggestions
Could anyone suggest good general books about ethics from a philosophical perspective?

The first paragraph on page 169 of The Ethical Brain summarizes the approaches of utilitarianism (Mill), deontology (Kant), and virtue theory (Aristotle). I'm looking for a book that describes those ethical philosophies in more detail.

Edited by: JulianTheApostate at: 11/5/05 7:54 pm



Sat Nov 05, 2005 7:53 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Genuinely Genius

Silver Contributor

Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 806
Location: NC
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ethics book suggestions
Julian, this may not be exactly what you're looking for, but I'll throw it out there just the same! I haven't read Aristotle and Kant since college, so I can't really recommend a classical book of philosophy. However, I enjoy the contemporary author, A.C. Grayling. We read his book, What is Good? The Search for the Best Way to Live, at BookTalk. In this book, Grayling discusses the history of ethics. He begins with two chapters on classical philosophy and continues through time with stoicism, humanism, and many other approaches to ethics. If you decide to read it and would like to discuss it, feel free to post on it in the forum. I also own a copy and would be happy to discuss it with you through my inbox.




Sun Nov 06, 2005 4:05 pm
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
The Pope of Literature


Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 2553
Location: decentralized
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Ethics book suggestions
Aristotle's (Nicomachean) Ethics is a fairly easy read. Mill's "Utilitarianism" is only slightly more difficult. Kant can be a bastard to read, and generally I don't recommend him.

That said, I can give you the short form of each ethical perspective.

Aristotle wrote two books on ethics, the second being called the Nichomachean Ethics, after his son, Nichomachus (?), whose death in battle provoked Aristotle to revise his views on ethics. So far as I know, Aristotle's book framed the basic question behind ethics -- How does one live the good life? There are two basic conceits to his view. The first is that no life can be considered truly good until it has ended, and the jury is sometimes still out for a generation or so after the person's death. In Aristotle's view, a person can live a good life, both pleasant and beneficial, and still see it wrecked on the last day. Somewhat further, he entertains the idea that events after one's death can have some bearing on the goodness of their life -- the subsequent loss of reputation, the collapse of the institutions one established, the wickedness of one's children, and so on. This is, in large part, because, for Aristotle, ethics is partly what happens because of a person, and partly what happens to a person. There is some tendency in the Ethics to conflate goodness with happiness, which we see little of in later ethical systems. The second conceit is better known: namely, that the good is almost always synonymous with the mean. He conceives virtues as the midpoint on a series of spectrums, such that in shooting for courage a person may stray into either cowardess on one side, or fool-hardiness on the other.

Mill started out as a Utilitarian, but I believe his views modified later in life. He wrote his book on Utilitarianism when he was young, influence, under the tuteledge of his father, by the earlier theories of Bentham. The gist of Utilitarianism is that the ethical good is whatever is best for the greatest number of people, and in particular, whatever makes the most people happy. In Bentham, this took a decidedly quantitative direction, such that it could be argued that pleasures should be amassed regardless of their kind, so long as they allowed others the same opportunity for happiness -- or especially if they automatically produced the happiness of others. The extreme of quantitative Utilitarianism was a form of what was called Hedonistic Calculus. Bentham actually suggested a unit, called Utils, by which happiness could be measured -- purely hypothetical, you understand -- and the idea was to maximize this number. Mill, in contrast, argued that the qualitative differences between pleasures counted just as much as the raw number of pleasures that could be accumulated. Thus, it was better to derive pleasure from, say, reading Plato, than it was to derive pleasure from being strung out on heroin, even if neither pleasure detracted from anyone else's pleasure. (And in some part, Mill was following a point of Plato's in this respect.)

Kant gave two versions of his ethical rule, the Categorical Imperative, one for philosophers and one for lay people, the latter being designed for widespread practical application. I won't bother with the first -- in part because it's rather involved, and in part (as a consequence of the first reason) because I don't remember it so well. The second version states, in essence, that you should make your ethical distinctions such that they may be universally applicable, that is, axiomatic. If it's wrong to lie in one situation, then it's always wrong to lie, otherwise, you're not really talking ethics. And Kant takes a hard line about this -- if it's wrong to lie about having eaten the plums someone was saving for their breakfast, it's equally wrong to lie to the Nazis about the Poles and Jews you have hiding in your basement. What Kant is looking for here is ethical consistency, without which ethical quandries can rapidly turn into exercises in rather impractical debate.




Mon Nov 07, 2005 12:27 am
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Masters


Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 450
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Thanks: 5
Thanked: 43 times in 34 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Ethics book suggestions
Thanks for the summary.

At some point, I'll browse the ethics books at the Stanford bookstore and see what catches my eye.




Mon Nov 07, 2005 2:07 am
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:

Announcements 

• Promote Your Fiction Book on BookTalk.org
Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:33 pm

• Promote Your Non-Fiction Book on BookTalk.org
Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:18 pm



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
How To Promote Your Book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2019. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank