Download Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics by Simon Blackburn PDF

By Simon Blackburn

Writing with wit and style, Simon Blackburn tackles the fundamental questions of ethics during this vigorous ebook, highlighting the issues and troubling concerns that spring from the extremely simple query of the way we should reside. Blackburn dissects the various universal purposes for why we're skeptical approximately ethics. Drawing on examples from historical past, politics, faith and daily own adventure, he indicates how cynicism and self-consciousness can paralyze us into contemplating ethics a hopeless pursuit. He assures us that ethics is neither futile nor beside the point, yet an intimate a part of crucial problems with living-of beginning, demise, happiness, hope, freedom, excitement, and justice. certainly, from ethical dilemmas approximately abortion and euthanasia, to our obsession with own rights, to our eager for a feeling of that means in existence, our daily struggles are rife with moral concerns. Blackburn distills the arguments of Hume, Kant and Aristotle right down to their essences, to underscore the undying relevance of our voice of moral sense, the pitfalls of complacency, and our matters approximately fact, wisdom and human progress.

Blackburn's infrequent blend of intensity, rigor, and glowing prose, with his exceptional score between modern philosophers, mark Being Good as an immense assertion on our present disenchantment with ethics. It demanding situations us to take a extra considerate examining of our moral weather and to give some thought to extra rigorously our personal criteria of habit.

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Extra resources for Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics

Example text

That throws us back onto the question of why the pleasure and the preference exists, but perhaps it just does. Female peacocks go for the 4i • S E V E N T H R E A T S TO E T H I C S • huge, beautiful, but apparently dysfunctional tails of the male, and female Irish elks went for the male practically immobilized by the biggest antlers. It is not easy to see why, and this problem can unfit explanations in terms of sexual selection for some purposes. For instance, if we find the human propensity for art or music puzzling because we cannot find a survival function for it, it doesn't immediately help to suggest that females prefer artistic and musical men, since we won't be able to find a survival function for that female preference, either.

They suppose that if our standards of conduct are 'just ours', then that strips them of any real authority. We might equally well do things differently, and if we come to do so there is neither real gain nor real loss. What is just or right in the eyes of one people may not be so in the eyes of another, and neither side can claim real truth, unique truth, for its particular rules. Arguing about ethics is arguing about the place of the end of the rainbow: something which is one thing from one point of view, and another from another.

It leaves room for us to vary our desires in accordance with what we learn (discovering that the glass contains sulphuric acid, I lose the desire to drink it that I had when I thought it contained gin). It leaves room for us to be influenced by information gathered from others. Finally, it leaves room for us to be affected by the attitudes of others. In other words, it makes us responsive to the moral climate. If we liked paradox, we might put this by saying that genetics programs us to be flexible.

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