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An Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics Hardcover – October 20, 2003

1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0745623443 ISBN-10: 0745623441 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"This remains the indispensable guide to the subject for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and philosophers wanting to get 'up to speed' on the issues."
Brian Leiter, University of Chicago

"For many years, the first edition of Alex Miller’s An Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics has been the primary text for my course on metaethics. No text that I know of introduces students so thoroughly to the central theories, distinctions and arguments. The second edition fills in the additional background now needed. In particular, the expansion of the chapter on error theories is particularly welcome."
Nadeem Hussain, Stanford University

"Given its breadth, thoroughness, and originality, Miller's An Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics is compulsory reading for everyone interested in metaethics. The updated material of this second edition guarantees that there will soon exist a second generation of metaethicists for whom reading this book is a formative experience."
Jussi Suikkanen, University of Birmingham

Acclaim for the first edition:

"An Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics provides for the first time a critical survey of famous figures in 20th Century metaethics together with in-depth discussions of contemporary philosophers and will be an invaluable resource for students, teachers and professional philosophers with interests in contemporary metaethics."
Philosophical Inquiry

"A precise and accessible reading of a rather complicated subject."

"In this book Alexander Miller, an established expert in moral philosophy, provides a concise, clear and insightful account of the central issues of metaethics. He manages to make these difficult issues accessible to those who are new to this area of philosophy, while offering original contributions to the debates that will be of interest to experts in the field. This is an engaging and accomplished introductory work."
Philip Stratton-Lake, University of Reading

"Miller’s book is ambitious, lucid, and comprehensive – an extremely useful and detailed study of the field. I wish it had been available when I taught my graduate seminar in moral realism, for it would have made an excellent reference work throughout the course – both for its clear exposition and its rigorous critical perspectives. I recommend it to all serious students of metaethics."
John Corvino, Wayne State University

From the Back Cover

An Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics provides a highly readable critical overview of the main arguments and themes in twentieth-century and contemporary metaethics. It traces the development of contemporary debates in metaethics from their beginnings in the work of G. E. Moore up to the most recent arguments between naturalism and non-naturalism, cognitivism and non-cognitivism.

Individual chapters deal with: the open-question arguments and Moore’s attack on ethical naturalism; A. J. Ayer’s emotivism and the rejection of non-naturalism; Simon Blackburn’s quasi-realism; Allan Gibbard’s norm-expressivism; J. L. Mackie’s ‘error-theory’ of moral judgement; anti-realist and best opinion accounts of moral truth; the non-reductionist naturalism of the ‘Cornell realists’; Peter Railton’s naturalistic reductionism; the analytic functionalism of Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit; the contemporary non-naturalism of John McDowell and David Wiggins; and the debate between internalists and externalists in moral psychology.

The book will be an invaluable resource for students, teachers and professional philosophers with interests in contemporary metaethics.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (October 20, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745623441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745623443
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,483,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 87 people found the following review helpful By ctdreyer on February 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
Miller has written a good book that covers a lot of the territory in contemporary meta-ethics. The book is structured around two basic debates within the field: the debate between cognitivists and noncognitivists, and the debate between realists and anti-realists.
The presentation of the material reflects the canned history of twentieth-century meta-ethics that should be familiar to anyone with some knowledge of the area. Our story begins with G. E. Moore's Principia Ethica, which is the subject of the second chapter of Miller's book. Moore's Principia (along with the work of Prichard, Ross, et al.) involves a defense of a particularly puzzling and problematic form of moral realism, namely non-naturalist intuitionism, and includes his famous Open Question Argument, which is the focus of Miller's chapter.
The second part of our story, and the remainder of Miller's book, begins with a backlash against Moore. Moore's non-naturalist intuitionism included the following views: that central components of moral language are indefinable, that moral facts can only be known as self-evident intuitions, and that moral properties are sui generis and not reducible to natural properties. A rejection of views of this sort gave rise to various forms of noncognitivism found in Ayer (who is Miller's representative of early noncognitivism), Stevenson, Hare, et al. that dominated English-language meta-ethics in the middle of the twentieth century. These philosophers rejected Moore's non-naturalist metaphysics and intuitionist epistemology as inconsistent with a naturalistic conception of the world.
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