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Ethics: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – September 14, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0192804426 ISBN-10: 0192804421 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Review

`Review from previous edition Simon Blackburn's short book takes the big moral questions head on and does so brilliantly. . . a witty, vivid writer with an enviable popular touch . . . this is a wonderfully enlightening book.' Ben Rogers, Sunday Telegraph,

`full of good sense' Sunday Times

`But for anyone wondering how big questions have bothered us over the years, this witty, rigorous book fills in the gaps.' PLAY, The Times

`always lively and never simplistic' Waterstone's Quarterly January 2002

`Good clearheaded stuff' Ted Honderich, The Times

`enjoyable and extremely readable . . . Blackburn . . . is breezy, helpful, reassuring' The Philosopher's Magazine

`sparklingly clear' Guardian

`a first rate and accessible guide which tackles the huge, perpetual questions' Nottingham Evaning Post

About the Author


Simon Blackburn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. Until recently he was Edna J. Doury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, and from 1969 to 1999 a Fellow and Tutor at Pembroke College, Oxford. His books include Spreading the Word (1984), Essays in Quasi-Realism (1993), The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (1994), Ruling Passions (1998), and Truth (co-edited with Keith Simmons, 1999), and the best-selling Think (1999). He edited the journal Mind from 1984 to 1990.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192804421
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192804426
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.5 x 4.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Blackburn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He was Edna J. Doury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, and from 1969 to 1990 was a Fellow and Tutor at Pembroke College, Oxford. He is the author of The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy and the best-selling Think and Being Good, among other books.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Adam Oliver on December 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love these short introductions, but their space limitations are obvious, so take that into account in this review. I am particularly educated in the Christian ethical tradition, so I was somewhat frustrated that Blackburn rejected religiously founded ethics quite glibly in the first section, with largely straw-man critique, but this is forgivable as it is not the author's perspective. With deity based ethics dismissed, he leads readers through possible retorts that this undermines ethical foundations thus allowing all ethical perspectives to stand equally valid; his format that took these concerns on straightforwardly were the principle reason I was interested in this work, even more so than his thoughts on nihilism. He dismissed the relativism critique rather shorthandly since he has an entire section on foundations to close the book. This was where I was expecting to find some meat to justify the dismissal of religious ethics and its accompanying concerns of moral relativism, but I was a bit disappointed. His short summaries of Kant and Rawls' attempts to ground ethics rationally are commendable, though he acknowledges that they still seem to come up short. In the end, he seems to argue that there is enough in common humanity to ground ethics reasonably, if not Reasonably. I struggled to get an answer for how ethical disputes might be settled reasonably if different groups have competing conceptions of what is "good." This to me is a key question of ethics, how can we make judgments about what is right or good that can be backed by more than our social or violent power to enforce them? Blackburn argues that humanity largely agrees on such "unpretentious things" as "Happiness is preferable to misery, and dignity is better than humiliation.Read more ›
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By easy going on September 11, 2013
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Excellent--the book has stirred lots of thought and given me a grasp on an important field of thought. I recommend it.

A few examples of stirring up thinking:

1. "There must be a course between the soggy sands of relativism and the cold rocks of dogmatism" (p. 26).

2. "But when it comes to ethics we are in the domain of preference and choice. And here, reason is silent" (p. 95).

3. "Nature is gradual, through and through" (p. 55).
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Franco on September 13, 2012
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Once again a book from the VSI series that really accomplish what it promises. Excellent first reading on the topic, it was really helpful preaparing a lecture on biomedical ethics for undergraduate students.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Chad on February 1, 2014
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I stopped reading after page 83 because I could not go on anymore. This book has no organization. I actually took an ethics class so I have some clue as to what I'm talking about. There are three chapters and then numbered sections within the chapters so that the numbers don't start over with each chapter. I don't even know what I learned other than some fancy sentences. Wouldn't it be wise to tell us what ethics is, where and when it started, and how it functions in our society today, then tell us the big and different schools of thought in the field? Instead, it is piecemeal. He needs to start with an introduction of where and when it came from and how it functions in fields today in our society today before he can begin writing sentences and he didn't do that. This would be a better review if I had read it all in a few days but I put gaps in within reading it, you can get a sample by clicking in and looking in the book and then compare it to my review and then see what you think.
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11 of 23 people found the following review helpful By N. A. Ramirez MD on April 17, 2010
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I enjoyed the simple approach, easy explanations and clear language. It is useful as a "Reader's Digest" view of ethics for the everyday person, or the beginner student.
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