Higher Education

Great Traditions in Ethics, 12th Edition

  • Theodore C. Denise Syracuse University
  • Nicholas White University of California, Irvine
  • Sheldon P. Peterfreund Late of Syracuse University
  • ISBN-10: 0495094986  |  ISBN-13: 9780495094982
  • 384 Pages
  • Previous Editions: 2005, 2002, 1999
  • © 2008 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $148.50



Long-hailed for skilled editing that enables students to explore many seminal and complex primary sources that contribute to the canon of ethical theory, GREAT TRADITIONS IN ETHICS has become the standard historical anthology for introducing ethical theory. Combining informative chapter introductions that provide biographical, historical, and theoretical contexts; well-placed comments inserted within the readings; and ample, but not overwhelming, reading selections, GREAT TRADITIONS IN ETHICS constructively challenges students to critically engage the most crucial ideas, thinkers, and readings in the history of ethical theory. With the Twelfth Edition, the authors focus on supplementing the readings with discussions of applying ethical theories-within the chapters and in the text's expanded Appendix.

Features and Benefits

  • Each chapter includes study questions to prompt thought about the selections and the concepts covered. "Guide to Additional Reading" sections direct students toward further study and assist students in focusing research for essays.
  • Chapter introductions prepare students for the subsequent readings and the issues they raise. Introductions to each philosopher are also included, as are introductions to specific reading selections. These help the student to engage with and understand the views of the ideas presented.
  • An appendix on applied ethics introduces students to the rise of this contemporary focal point in ethical debates.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction.
2. Plato: Knowledge and Virtue.
From "The Gorgias and the Repulbic,"Books I-II, IV, VI-VII, and IX.
3. Aristotle: Moral Character.
From "Nichomachean Ethics," Books I-II, VI, and X.
4. Epicurus: The Pleasant Life.
From the letters "To Herodotus" and "To Menoceus," the "Principal Doctrines," and the "Fragments."
5. Epictetus: Self-Discipline.
From the "Discourses," Books I-IV, the "Enchiridion," and the "Fragments."
6. Saint Augustine: The Love of God.
From the "Enchiridion," Chapters XI-XII, XCVI, and C-CI, and the "City of God," Books V, XII, XIV, and XIX-XXII.
7. Saint Thomas Aquinas: Morality and Natural Law.
From the "Summa Contra Gentiles," Book III, and the "Summa Theologica," Articles I-III, and V-VIII.
8. Thomas Hobbes: Social Contract Ethics.
From the "Leviathan," Chapters VI, XIII-XV, and XXIX-XXX, and "Philosophical Rudiments," Chapter I.
9. Benedict de Spinoza: Nature and Reason.
Selections from "On the Improvement of the Understanding," and "The Ethics," Parts I-V.
10. Joseph Butler: Conscience in Morality.
From "Sermons," I-III and XI, and the "Preface."
11. David Hume: Morality and Sentiment.
From "An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals."
12. Immanuel Kant: Duty and Reason.
From "Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals," First and Second Sections.
13. John Stuart Mill: The Greatest Happiness Principle.
From "Utilitarianism," Chapters II-III.
14. Søren Kierkegaard: The Leap of Faith.
From "Either/or, Fear and Trembling," and "Concluding Unscientific Postscript."
15. Karl Marx: Morality as Ideology.
From "Karl Marx: Selected Writings."
16. Henry Sidgwick: Utilitarianism Revised.
From "The Methods of Ethics."
17. Friedrich Nietzsche: The Transvaluation of Values.
From "The Will to Power, the Genealogy of Morals (First Essay)," and "Beyond Good and Evil."
18. John Dewey: Scientific Method in Ethics.
From "The Quest for Certainty," Chapter X.
19. G. E. Moore: The Indefinability of Good.
From "Principia Ethica."
20. W. D. Ross: Prima Facie Duty.
From "The Right and the Good."
21. A. J. Ayer and C. L. Stevenson: Ethics as Emotive Expression.
From "Ayer's Language, Truth and Logic," Chapter VI, and Stevenson's "The Nature of Ethical Disagreement."
22. Jean-Paul Sartre: Radical Freedom.
From "Existentialism and Human Emotions."
23. Kurt Baier: Good Reason in Ethics.
From "The Moral Point of View."
24. John Rawls: Ethics and Social Justice.
From "Justice as Reciprocity."
25. Philippa Foot: Moral Virtue and Human Interest.
From "Virtues and Vices and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy."
26. Annette Baier: Ethics as Trusting in Trust.
From "Trust and Antitrust."
27. J.L. Mackie: Inventing Right and Wrong.
From "Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong."
28. Bernard Williams: Ethical Skepticism.
From "Morality: An Introduction to Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy."
Appendix: Traditions and Applications.

What's New

  • This edition features a substantially expanded Appendix on applied ethics. This enhanced section surveys major areas in applied ethics and explains how the views of philosophers presented in the text might be applied to various ethical problems.
  • Revised introductions throughout the text for this edition focus on real world applications of the ethical theories presented.
  • Now you can customize your text and your course with ease. Proteus offers a collection of readings that give you unprecedented flexibility, range, quality, and value via a vast array of seminal works history of philosophy as well as exceptional secondary overviews philosophers and topics in philosophy. Using the intuitive TextChoice engine, you can sample and create custom anthologies online in an easy, automated fashion. Visit http://proteus.thomsonlearning.com to learn more.


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the main title. Select the main title's "About" tab, then select "What's New" for updates specific to title's edition.

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Online Instructor's Manual  (ISBN-10: 0495096113 | ISBN-13: 9780495096115)

Meet the Author

Author Bio

Theodore C. Denise

Theodore C. Denise received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and taught at Syracuse University

Nicholas White

Nicholas White obtained his Ph.D. from Harvard University and currently serves as chair of the philosophy department at the University of California, Irvine. He specializes in Greek philosophy, epistemology, and ethics, having written several books and articles on each of these topics.

Sheldon P. Peterfreund

Sheldon P. Peterfreund taught at Syracuse University for over 40 years, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.