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Moral Relativism: A Reader 1st Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195131307
ISBN-10: 0195131304
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Editorial Reviews


"An excellent collection, the breadth of which few, if any, can match."--Philip J. Maloney, Christian Brothers University

About the Author

Paul K. Moser is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. His most recent books include The Severity of God: Religion and Philosophy Reconceived (Cambridge University Press, 2013); The Elusive God: Reorienting Religious Epistemology (Cambridge University Press, 2009); and The Evidence for God: Religious Knowledge Reexamined (Cambridge University Press, 2010). He is editor of Jesus and Philosophy: New Essays (Cambridge University Press, 2009), and co-editor of Divine Hiddenness (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and of The Wisdom of the Christian Faith (Cambridge University Press, 2012). Moser is Editor of the American Philosophical Quarterly.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 337 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (August 10, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195131304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195131307
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.7 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,722,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is an anthology of papers by contemporary analytic philosophers about moral relativism. It's chalk full of papers in which analytic philosophers do what they do best: clarify the nature of positions, lay out the arguments for and against various positions, relate various positions and arguments to one another, etc. If you want to know just what relativism is, just why someone might defend it, and just why someone might criticize it, this is the place to go.
And, clearly, this is a topic where the clarity and patience you find in this collection is sorely needed. Relativism is something about which there is a lot of discussion in academia, in the media, and in everyday conversation. But rarely, if ever, do people discuss what they think relativism really is. This is where this anthology can be very helpful, for many of these papers go to great pains to spell out just what relativism is and why it may or may not be a defensible position. The way to get at relativism is to look at various common-sense ideas that are connected to relativism: that the same thing can be right for people in one group and wrong for people in another, that morality is relative to a person's group, that there is no single true morality, that morality isn't objective, etc. And it is also important to focus, as many of these papers do, on the fact that moral relativism is not simply a matter of the sociological and anthropological facts about moral disagreement and differences. These facts are often take to suggest relativism, but it is important to recognize that they do not immediately imply it. Relativism is one possible response to these facts about disagreement and differences in moral codes between different groups of people.
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Format: Paperback
Contrary to the previous reviewer's statements, this is not a terrible introduction to the topic of moral relativism. In fact it is a rather good one. I suspect the previous reviewer was put off with the very slightly technical stage setting that goes on in contemporary philosophical ethics. For those who can't handle this, avoid this book and look forward to a life of conceptual confusion.
Some of the selections of this reader are excellent, tightly (but not necessarily correctly) argued intro-level articles, particularly the pieces by Harman, Mackie, Scanlon, Nagel and Nussbaum (all very accomplished writers in this area). Others are not as well-written or tightly argued, but they nevertheless raise the crucial issues at stake in discussion of moral relativism, and, therefore, have at least a pedagogical value. Overall a solid starting point for those with a serious interest and willing to think about the issues in detail.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A professor of philosophy at the local university recommended this book as a good introduction to the topic of ethical (moral) relativism, suitable for the layperson. It definitely isn't. I read the lengthy introduction, which lays out the landscape of the topic and defines a bunch of terms. Then I read the first essay, which does exactly the same thing. I started on the second essay and realized that these essays just are not suited for a layperson novice in the field.
So I skipped to the final section, which is purported to be "a case study on female circumcision/genital mutilation that vividly brings into focus the practical aspects and implications of moral relativism." It sure looked more "user friendly". But the case study isn't really much of a case study as it is a poorly thought out argument against using moral relativism to defend these practices. It's been 15 years since I took my last philosophy course in college, but even I noticed the glaring logic errors used one after another in this argument.
I don't think I've ever been this dissatisfied with a book, so I felt I had to write a review to warn you to stay away!
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