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Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics…

Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics

by Simon Blackburn

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This book is not specific enough about trends in ethics to be of good use in an Intro to Philosophy class, but it provides a sophisticated and non-condescending account of the subject fit for intelligent people looking for the lay of the land. ( )
  reganrule | Jun 3, 2016 |
This introduction to ethics is more a platform for Blackburn to explain why all attempts to create a ethical system fail. He spends considerable time considering "threats to ethics" before looking at some ethical ideas and foundations for ethics. However he fails to provide an adequate foundation for ethics and one is left with the unfortunate conclusion that "goodness" is unattainable. Especially in reading the appendix which is the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Almost every article is currently being broken by members of the UN without repercussion. If that is the basis for ethics I would rather look elsewhere. ( )
  True54Blue | Jun 3, 2010 |
hen faced with an ethical dilemma, should we seek solutions that offer the greatest good or happiness to the greatest number of people? Are there any universal laws or principles by which ethical conduct should be governed? From what sources are ethical principles derived? Cambridge philosopher Blackburn addresses these and other questions in this straightforward introduction to ethics, a companion to his Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy. In part one, he considers seven subjects religion, relativism, evolutionary theory, egoism, determinism, unreasonable demands and false consciousness "that seem to suggest that ethics is somehow impossible." For example, relativism (the idea there is no one truth but different truths), he argues, often ends in nihilism, or the notion that there are indeed no values and no truth. Next, Blackburn discusses several ethical theories, including deontology (the theory that our ethical actions must be governed by rules) and utilitarianism (the theory that our ethical actions must be governed by their consequences), as well as rights theories and Kant's categorical imperative, which elevates duty to universal law. In a final section, Blackburn suggests that neither Kant, rights theories, deontology or utilitarianism provide adequate grounds for being good. Rather, he argues, "ethical principles are those that would be agreed in any reasonable cooperative procedure for coming to one mind about our conduct." Unfortunately, Blackburn never develops his idea about a common point of view for judging our conduct (he doesn't explain, for instance, how such a cooperative transaction can take place when partners in the conversation are using different ethical languages), and that is where this little book, which is so rich in analysis, falters significantly.
2 vote antimuzak | Jun 10, 2008 |
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Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics (174 p.) is not the same work as Ethics: A Very Short Introduction (139 p.) Please do not combine.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0192853775, Paperback)

This is not your typical ethics book: its sleek physical dimensions mirror Simon Blackburn's intelligent but unencumbered treatment of the main threats and origins of ethics. In Being Good, Blackburn addresses the fear that "ethical claims are a kind of sham" before sketching a road map of the history of ethics, its practical consequences, and its ultimate foundations. All this is an ambitious task for such a diminutive volume.

A professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, Blackburn is one of the giants of contemporary moral theory and a trustworthy guide through its labyrinth. He prefers parsimony to complexity--helpful for readers with only a casual acquaintance with philosophy--yet he manages to avoid trivializing his subject matter. Moreover, Being Good is wonderfully enlivened by illustrations by Paul Klee, William Blake, Eugène Delacroix, Francisco de Goya, and even Vietnam War photography and cartoons. Blackburn concludes on a promising note: "If we are careful, and mature, and imaginative, and fair, and nice, and lucky, the moral mirror in which we gaze at ourselves may not show us saints. But it need not show us monsters, either." --Eric de Place

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:04 -0400)

Themes of birth, death, happiness, desire and freedom. Also history of ethics.

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