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How Should One Live?: Essays on the Virtues Paperback – August 27, 1998

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 27, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198752342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198752349
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,531,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This is a superb collection of essays on the virtues....Highly recommended for all university libraries and larger public libraries."--Choice

About the Author

Roger Crisp is at St Anne's College, Oxford.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Guttentag on March 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
If Roger Crisp is to be believed a revolution has occurred in the past few decades in ethics. It is a revolution in both senses of the word: a revolt against the two schools that have dominated ethical thinking for the past few centuries, Kantianism and utilitarianism, and a turning back to a much earlier ethical scheme, the virtue ethics proposed by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics.
Reading this collection of essays gives credence to the quality of this revitalization of virtue ethics. I was initially skeptical that virtue ethics could stand as an independent school of ethical thinking, but the essays do a nice job of showing how "virtue ethics" can address effectively some of the critical difficulties faced by a utilitarian or Kantian ethical scheme. Virtue ethics, these essays argue, provides a more useful set of tools to guide one's actions by than do utilitarianism or Kantianism and virtue ethics encourages one to act with partiality towards oneself and ones friends in a way that is congruous with our common sense of ethical behavior. After reading these essays one can reasonably appreciate the usefulness of a scheme of virtues as the guiding principles for living ones life. For me, the main issue remains whether virtue ethics creates the same kind of imperative as the utilitarian (maximize well-being) and Kantian (achieve the fulfillment of acting as a reasoning creature) schemes. In fairness, the essays are limited to less than twenty pages each, so they remain appetizers at best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Heersink on May 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book presumes a basic knowledge of aretic, consequentialist, and deontic ethics. Its focus is largely virtue ethics, but embraces a wide wraith of different ethical systems to satisfy the broadest of tastes. The authors take "vrtue" in its widest senses and comments on them from various traditions, especially Aristotle, Kant, and Mill who occupy center stage. The book also includes chapters on the virtues of Hume, moral psychology, communitarian, emotivist, and feminist perspectives, along with other modern issues. It is a commentary (rather than a didactic) on a broad spectrum ethical theories, their strengths and weaknesses, and develops and enhances some of the nuances that have not received wide audiences. Among its contributors are Roger Crisp (also editor), John Cuttingham, Brad Hooker, Terence Irwin, Michael Slote, Gabriele Taylor, and David Wiggins.
Books like this are very pleasing to read, inasmuch as it does not war with each others' opinion and comments, but revises and extends the original sources in ways that are relevant to the contemporary reader. Although a presumption of basic ethical theories will reduce readership, those familiar with these theories will find these essays tremendously interesting and informative. I came away from the book not believing in any single ethical theory, but developing an appreciation for the virtue of almost all of them (utilitarianism will always be hard for me to swallow when applied individually), divergent as they may be. There seems to be a place at both the table of discussion and at the table of our lives for a pluralistic use of ethical theories, ancient and modern.
The writing is exceptionally clear and concise, rarely bordering on the obtuse or exceptionally abstract. Any person interested in ethics will prize this book in his/her collection.
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