Unlike many important leaders and historical figures, Abraham Lincoln is generally regarded as a singularly good and morally virtuous human being. Lincoln's Ethics assesses Lincoln's moral character and his many morally fraught decisions regarding slavery and the rights of African-Americans, as well as his actions and policies as commander in chief during the Civil War. Some of these decisions and policies have been the subject of considerable criticism. Lincoln undoubtedly possessed many important moral virtues, such as kindness and magnanimity, to a very high degree. Despite this, there are also grounds to question the goodness of his character. Many fault him as a husband, father and son, and many claim that he was a racist. Carson explains Lincoln's virtues and assesses these criticisms.
Thomas L. Carson is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University, Chicago. He is the author of three other books: The Status of Morality (1984), Value and the Good Life (2000) and Lying and Deception: Theory and Practice (2010). He is also the co-editor (with Paul Moser) of two anthologies: Morality and the Good Life (1997) and Moral Relativism (2001). Carson was previously a member of the editorial boards of American Philosophical Quarterly, Public Affairs Quarterly, the Journal of Happiness Studies and Business Ethics Quarterly.
1. Introduction; Part I. Lincoln the Politician and Commander in Chief: 2. Lincoln's evolving policies regarding slavery: compromise and utilitarianism; 3. Habeas corpus, colonization, and the status and rights of free African-Americans; 4. Did the union have a just cause for fighting the American civil war?; 5. Jus in bello: did the union fight the war justly?; 6. Moral luck and Lincoln's good moral luck; Part II. Lincoln's Moral Character: 7. Lincoln's virtues; 8. Other salient features of Lincoln's character and personality; 9. Lincoln's marriage and family life and what they reveal about his character; 10. Was Lincoln a racist?; 11. Conclusion.