Ethics, Evil, and Fiction brings together moral philosophy and literary analysis in a way that offers original new insights for both. Its central aim is to enrich the domain of moral reflection, by showing the value of literary texts as sources of moral illumination. Colin McGinn starts by setting out an uncompromisingly realist ethical theory, arguing that morality is an area of objective truth and genuine knowledge. He goes on to
address such subjects as the nature of goodness, evil character, and the meaning of monstrosity, in the context of an aesthetic theory of virtue, which maintains that goodness of character is the same thing as beauty of soul. Works discussed include Billy Budd, Lolita, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and
Frankenstein; and McGinn draws upon examples from film and painting as well as literature. The originality of his approach, the clarity and forthrightness of his writing, and his conviction that fiction and philosophy have much enlightenment to offer each other, make this a compelling and fascinating book. 'A book which I hope will start a new fashion . . .it has all the qualities modern philosophical writing tends to lack. I found it substantial, absorbing
and relevant.' Times Higher Education Supplement
`this engagingly written book.'
Connie S Rosati, Philosophy 71.
`I really enjoyed his literary-ethical exploration of Frankenstein and Dorian Gray. These portions of the book contain much that should interest those seeking more effective ways of teaching moral philosophy.'
Connie S Rosati, Philosophy, 71.
`an interesting but eccentric book ... I have gone on at length about the aesthetic theory of virtue because, for me, it is one of the book's most arresting claims. If this is the kind of provocative theses that you enjoy, then Ethics, Evil, and Fiction, despite (or maybe because of) its quirks, is worth reading.'
Nancy E. Snow, International Philosophical Quarterly
`His discussion of evil is very interesting... he draws excellent examples from literature.'
Marcia Muelder Eaton, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.
`Provocative book... if a teacher were to place the fictional works for independent study onto the syllabus, Ethics, Evil, and Fiction would make for a good terms work in Ethics 'or' Aesthetics.'
Tony Skillen, British Journal of Aesthetics
1: Introduction: The Scope of Moral Philosophy
3: Knowledge of Goodness
4: The Evil Character
5: Beauty of Soul
6: The Picture: Dorian Gray
7: Who Is Frankenstein's Monster?
8: Conclusion: Stories and Morals