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Ethics Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality by David Wiggins

Ethics Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality


Ethics Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality by David Wiggins

Almost every thoughtful person wonders at some time why morality says what it says and how, if at all, it speaks to us. David Wiggins surveys the answers most commonly proposed for such questions - and does so in a way that the thinking reader, increasingly perplexed by the everyday problem of moral philosophy, can follow. His work is thus an introduction to ethics that presupposes nothing more than the reader's willingness to read philosophical proposals closely and literally. Gathering insights from Hume, Kant, the utilitarians, and a twentieth-century assortment of post-utilitarian thinkers, and drawing on sources as diverse as Aristotle, Simone Weil, and Philippa Foot, Wiggins points to the special role of the sentiments of solidarity and reciprocity that human beings will find within themselves. After examining the part such sentiments play in sustaining our ordinary ideas of agency and responsibility, he searches the political sphere for a neo-Aristotelian account of justice that will cohere with such an account of morality. Finally, Wiggins turns to the standing of morality and the question of the objectivity or reality of ethical demands. As the need arises at various points in the book, he pursues a variety of related issues and engages additional thinkers - Plato, C. S. Peirce, Darwin, Schopenhauer, Leibniz, John Rawls, Montaigne and others - always emphasizing the words of the philosophers under discussion, and giving readers the resources to arrive at their own viewpoint of why and how ethics matters.


It is virtually impossible to give a summary of Ethics that does justice to the depth and breadth of topics covered in David Wiggins
new introduction to moral theory. Ethics is both highly informative, providing detailed expositions of the arguments of main figures in the history of moral philosophy, and engagingly polemical, offering an overall argument for a pluralistic, Humean conception of morality

...It is a book well-worth spending time with, not only for the compelling and challenging arguments Wiggins makes on behalf of a Humean approach to morality, but also for the remarkably detailed and incisive presentation of the ground he covers. -- Sirine Shebaya Metapsychology 20060829 There are few moral philosophers who will not learn something by studying this book and giving it the concentration it demands. Whether he is talking about Kant or John Stuart Mill, Rawls or John Mackie, Wiggins has subtle and interesting things to say. -- Simon Blackburn Times Higher Education Supplement 20060908

About the Author

David Wiggins retired in 2000 from the Wykeham Chair of Logic at the University of Oxford after 40 years teaching philosophy in the universities of Oxford and London.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st September 2009


David Wiggins

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Harvard University Press


408 pages


Ethics & moral philosophy



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