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Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues 8th Edition

Barbara MacKinnon, Andrew Fiala

  • Published
  • Previous Editions 2012, 2009, 2007
  • 608 Pages
Starting At 80.00 See pricing and ISBN options


Introduce your students to the major perspectives in ethical theory and a broad range of contemporary moral debates using MacKinnon/Fiala's ETHICS: THEORY AND CONTEMPORARY ISSUES, Eighth Edition. Illuminating overviews and a selection of readings from traditional and contemporary sources make even complex philosophical concepts reader-friendly. Comprehensive, clear-sighted introductions to general and specific areas of ethical debate cover influential ethical theories, including religion and global ethics; utilitarianism and deontology; natural law ethics; virtue ethics; and feminist and care ethics. Contemporary moral issues discussed include euthanasia, sexual morality, economic justice, animal ethics, war, violence, and globalization. A broader range of voices and philosophical traditions in this edition includes continental and non-Western philosophers, with new readings from prominent ethicists such as Kwame Anthony Appiah, Angela Y. Davis, Mohandas Gandhi, and Richard Rorty. Increased coverage of contemporary dilemmas highlights issues of widespread interest, such as same-sex marriage, structural racism, factory farming, pacifism, and global distributive justice. An innovative online resource center offers a package of Aplia teaching tools designed for this text, along with animated ethics simulations that allow students to engage with the philosophical issues and concepts discussed in the text. These pedagogical resources review key dilemmas and thought experiments commonly presented in introduction to ethics classes and allow you to seamlessly integrate online assignments into your courses.

Barbara MacKinnon, University of San Francisco

Barbara MacKinnon is a professor emerita of philosophy at the University of San Francisco. During her 30 years of teaching, her instruction and writing focused primarily on the history of ethics and contemporary ethical issues. She enjoys reading widely, playing the piano, and traveling.

Andrew Fiala, Fresno State University

Andrew Fiala is chair and professor of philosophy at Fresno State University, as well as director of the university's Ethics Center. His scholarly writing focuses on war and peace, politics, religion, and ethics. He also is a columnist for the Fresno Bee.
  • Chapter 2 focuses on religion and global ethics.
  • There is increased emphasis on non-Western ethics.
  • Coverage of naturalism and evolutionary ethics has been expanded.
  • New material emphasizes the social contract and prisoner's dilemma.
  • There is greater coverage of natural law and human rights.
  • Discussion of feminism and contemporary political issues affecting women has been updated.
  • Factual material for all of the applied chapters also has been updated, with extended coverage of physician-assisted suicide, gay marriage, structural racism, economic inequality, social justice, immigration, the prison system, restorative justice, vegetarianism, biotechnology, and critiques of war.
  • Readings from the following authors are included: Anita L. Allen, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Nick Bostrom, Angela Davis, John Finnis, Mohandas Gandhi, David Hume, Michael Ignatieff, Martin Luther King, Jr., Steven Pinker, Louis Pojman, Igor Primoratz, Richard Rorty, Peter Singer, Lloyd Steffen Thucydides, and Mary Anne Warren.
  • New pedagogical tools are featured in each chapter, including learning outcomes and a glossary of key terms.
  • Valuable introductions to guide learning: Clear and accessible summaries of ethical theories and moral issues provide a detailed overview of influential arguments and positions. Updated discussions of relevant cases and controversies place philosophical concepts in the context of current news events.
  • Balanced presentation: This book introduces traditional ethics as developed in the European tradition while emphasizing a range of cultural, gender, racial, and international perspectives.
  • Intriguing chapter openings: Chapters open with vignettes illustrating the real-world stakes of contemporary moral issues or recent news stories that capture students' interest and direct their attention to the philosophical discussion that follows.
  • Diverse readings: The text features a wide range of readings from influential ethicists and philosophers, including Kwame Anthony Appiah, Annette Baier, Nick Bostrom, Thomas Hobbes, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nel Noddings, John Rawls, Vandana Shiva, Peter Singer, and C. L. Stevenson.
  • Student-friendly design: The four-color layout has been redesigned with readability and student interest in mind. Colorful photos and diagrams help visually oriented students engage with the text.
  • Assistance in writing papers: A 12-page appendix dedicated to writing ethics papers provides much-needed assistance. In addition, topics and resources for written assignments appear within discussion cases and the text's companion website.
  • Effective learning aids: Study questions at the beginning of each reading help students focus and become engaged with the content. Review Exercises at the end of each chapter also can serve as test or exam questions. Discussion cases, following each applied ethics chapter, encourage students to consider the personal stakes of moral problems and generate classroom discussion.
  • Online pedagogical support: The innovative Resource Center has been updated and expanded, with interactive Aplia learning tools and flash-animated ethics simulations.
1. Ethics and Ethical Reasoning.
Why Study Ethics? What is Ethics? Ethical and Other Types of Evaluation. Sociobiology and the Naturalistic Fallacy. Ethical Terms. Ethics and Reasons. Intuitionism, Emotivism, Subjectivism, Objectivism. Ethical Reasoning and Arguments. Ethical Theory. Types of Ethical Theory. Can Ethics Be Taught. Readings: David Hume, Ethical Judgments and Matters of Fact (from Treatise); C.L. Stevenson, Facts and Values.
2. Religion and Global Ethics.
Freedom, Cosmopolitanism, and The European Enlightenment. Religion, Civic Life, and Civil Disobedience. Ethics, Religion, and Divine Command Theory. Pluralism and the Golden Rule.
The Problem of Evil and Free Will. Secular Ethics and Toleration. Criticisms of Secularism and Global Ethics. Readings: Plato, Euthyphro; M.K. Gandhi, Religion and Truth; Michael Ignatieff, Reimagining a Global Ethic.
3. Ethical Relativism.
Descriptive vs. Normative Ethical Relativism. Individual vs. Cultural Relativism. Reasons Supporting Ethical Relativism.Are these Reasons Convincing? Is Relativism Self-Contradictory? Moral Realism. Moral Pluralism. Readings: Louis Pojman, Who''s to Judge? Richard Rorty, Moral Relativism.
4. Egoism, Altruism, and the Social Contract.
Psychological Egoism. Ethical Egoism. The Moral Point of View. Why be Moral? Readings: Plato, The Ring of Gyges (from Republic); Thomas Hobbes, Self Love (from Leviathan); Steven Pinker, Social Contract and Altruism (from The Blank Slate).
5. Utilitarianism and John Stuart Mill.
Weighing Consequences. Historical Background. The Principle of Utility. Pleasure and Happiness. Calculating the Greatest Amount of Happiness. Quantity vs. Quality of Pleasure. Evaluating Utilitarianism. The Trolley Problem. Act and Rule Utilitarianism. "Proof" of the Theory. Reading: John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism.
6. Deontological Ethics and Immanuel Kant.
Deontology and the Ethics of Duty. Immanuel Kant. The Categorical Imperative. Evaluating Kant''s Moral Theory. Perfect and Imperfect Duties. Variations on Kant and Deontology. Reading: Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals.
7. Natural Law and Human Rights.
Natural Law Theory. Historical Origins. Evaluating Natural Law Theory. Natural Rights. Evaluating Natural Rights Theory. Is There a Human Nature? Readings. Thomas Aquinas, On Natural Law. John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government.
8. Virtue Ethics.
Virtues and Everyday Life. Aristotle. Cross-Cultural and Contemporary Virtue Ethics.
Evaluating Virtue Ethics. Readings: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Philippa Foot, Virtues and Vices.
9. Feminist Thought and the Ethics of Care.
Gender in Moral Reasoning and the Ethics of Care. Feminist Thought. Evaluation of Feminist Thought and the Ethics of Care. Readings: Nel Noddings, Caring; Annette Baier, The Need for More than Justice;
10. Euthanasia.
Euthanasia for Infants and the Disabled. Criteria for Death. Types of Euthanasia. Making Moral Judgments About Euthanasia. Readings: J. Gay-Williams, The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia; James Rachels, Active and Passive Euthanasia; Carl B. Becker, Buddhist Views of Suicide and Euthanasia.
11. Abortion.
Stages of Fetal Development. Methods of Abortion. Abortion and the Law. Abortion: The Moral Question. Arguments that Do Not Depend on the Moral Status of the Fetus. Arguments that Depend on the Moral Status of the Fetus. Readings: Judith Jarvis Thomson, A Defense of Abortion; Mary Anne Warren, On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion; Don Marquis, Why Abortion is Immoral.
12. Sexual Morality.
Current Issues. Conceptual Problems: What Is and Is Not Sexual. Relevant Factual Matters. Sexual Morality and Ethical Theories. Gay Marriage. Readings: John Finnis, Law, Morality, and "Sexual Orientation"; Igor Primoratz, Homosexuality, Ethics, and Sex.
13. Equality and Discrimination.
Discrimination. The Principle of Equality.
Current Issues and the Law. Affirmative Action and Preferential Treatment.
Readings: Kwame Anthony Appiah, Racisms; Anita L. Allen, Was I Entitled or Should I Apologize? Affirmative Action Going Forward.
14. Economic Justice.
Economic Inequality. Conceptions of Social Justice. Political and Economic Theories. Readings: John Rawls, Justice as Fairness; Robert Nozick, Distributive Justice.
15. Punishment and the Death Penalty.
The Nature of Legal Punishment. Prisons. The Death Penalty. Readings: Angela Y. Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete? Lloyd Steffen, A Theory of Just Execution.
16. Environmental Ethics.
The Environment and Its Value. Anthropocentrism. Ecocentrism. Current Issues. Readings:
William F. Baxter, People or Penguins: The Case for Optimal Pollution; Bill Devall and George Sessions, Deep Ecology; Ramachandra Guha, Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique.
17. Animal Ethics.
Current Issues. Approaches to Animal Ethics. Readings: Peter Singer, All Animals Are Equal;
Bonnie Steinbock, Speciesism and the Idea of Equality.
18. Biotechnology and Bioengineering.
Current Issues. Legal and Ethical Issues. Readings: Leon R. Kass, Ageless Bodies, Happy Souls; Nick Bostrom, In Defense of Posthuman Dignity.
19. Violence and War.
Realism. Pacifism. Just War Theory. Current Issues. Readings: Thucydides, Melian Dialogue;
Martin Luther King, Jr., Pilgrimage to Nonviolence; Michael Walzer, Triumph of Just War Theory.
20. Global Justice.
Current Issues. National Self-Interest. Global Justice.
Readings: Peter Singer, The Life You Can Save; Herman Daly, Globalization and Its Discontents; Vandana Shiva, Principles of Earth Democracy.
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Aplia is an online learning solution that increases student engagement with automatically graded assignments and detailed explanations.

This Cengage solution can be seamlessly integrated into most Learning Management Systems (Blackboard, Brightspace by D2L, Canvas, Moodle, and more) but does require a different ISBN for access codes. Please work with your Cengage Learning Consultant to ensure the proper course set up and ordering information. For additional information, please visit the LMS Integration site.

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"MacKinnon's Ethics is the perfect introductory text. It presents a balance of theory and application, and a balance of historical and contemporary readings. It provides a wealth of up-to-date empirical data on all of the topics discussed. And on top of that, it's written in a clear, engaging style."

"It is rare to find a text that provides an excellent combination of both ethical theory and applied ethics in a single volume that is concise, highly readable, and quite informative. MacKinnon's text is right on target!"

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