A Short Introduction to Ethics provides a short, straightforward volume that prepares the reader for in-depth study of the questions, issues, and puzzles that must be dealt with in the study of standard ethics or moral philosophy. The author introduces the terminology used by professional moralists as well as basic ideas of ethics, such as how to judge the moral character of an action, how moral responsibility is determined, what moral knowledge might consist of, theoretical approaches to making moral judgments from cultural moral relativism, through utilitarianism, natural law, Kantian moral rationalism, and virtue theory, including the ideas of Aristotle. He presents natural law in great detail, focusing largely on Thomas Aquinas' approach to making moral judgments. This focus allows for a better understanding of the philosophical thinking underlying controversial issues, including abortion, euthanasia, in-vitro fertilization, homosexuality, artificial contraception, cloning, and surrogate motherhood.
Gerald J. Williams is Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Seton Hall University.
chapter 1 Preface chapter 2 Acknowledgments chapter 3 Deciding What's Morally Permissible chapter 4 What Counts in Judging the Moral Character of an Action chapter 5 When Are We Morally Responsible for What We Do? chapter 6 Some Thoughts About Moral Knowledge chapter 7 Cultural Moral Relativism chapter 8 Utilitarianism chapter 9 Natural Law chapter 10 Immanuel Kant: Pure Practical Reason chapter 11 Rights chapter 12 Virtue chapter 13 Sources chapter 14 Resources chapter 15 Index chapter 16 About the Author