Most helpful critical review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Tends to be a superficial overview
on March 16, 2013
Over a period of three decades of teaching philosophy at the college level I have received more than a hundred complimentary copies of books dealing with the various areas of philosophy, including ethics. As time has gone on I have noticed an increasing demand for books in applied ethics rather than theoretical ethics. Until recently the ethics texts I received from publishers were devoted primarily to one or the other. Recently, however, I’ve seen a trend to texts that try to do a little of both--spending a few chapters discussing ethical theory and devoting the rest of the book to application. The difficulty with this approach is that it’s hard to cover both areas adequately in one book.
"Exploring Ethics," edited by Steven Cahn, is one such text. Slightly under half of it is devoted to theoretical ethics. The rest discusses practical moral problems. The result is that the part on theoretical ethics, which consists of 18 short selections on a wide variety of topics (such as egoism, God and morality, utilitarianism, the categorical imperative, etc.) hardly scratches the surface and doesn’t provide the student with a real appreciation for any of these theories in particular or the basic issues in ethical theory in general.
On the applied ethics side of the equation, things are just a little better. Here too we find mostly short articles that at best give the reader a superficial introduction to the topics discussed (such as abortion, euthanasia, terrorism, animal rights, affirmative action, and environmentalism).
"Exploring Ethics" may work as an introductory text for some instructors. However, my recommendation is to keep looking, since there are better texts on the market.