Our self-image as moral, well-behaved creatures is dogged by scepticism, relativism, hypocrisy, and nihilism, by the fear that in a Godless world science has unmasked us as creatures fated by our genes to be selfish and tribalistic, or competitive and aggressive. In this clear introduction to ethics Simon Blackburn tackles the major moral questions surrounding birth, death, happiness, desire and freedom, showing us how we should think about the meaning of life, and how we should mistrust the soundbite-sized absolutes that often dominate moral debates.
About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
`Review from previous edition Simon Blackburn's short book takes the big moral questions head on and does so brilliantly. . . a witty, vivid writer with an enviable popular touch . . . this is a wonderfully enlightening book.'
Ben Rogers, Sunday Telegraph,
`full of good sense'
`But for anyone wondering how big questions have bothered us over the years, this witty, rigorous book fills in the gaps.'
PLAY, The Times
`always lively and never simplistic'
Waterstone's Quarterly January 2002
`Good clearheaded stuff'
Ted Honderich, The Times
`enjoyable and extremely readable . . . Blackburn . . . is breezy, helpful, reassuring'
The Philosopher's Magazine
`a first rate and accessible guide which tackles the huge, perpetual questions'
Nottingham Evaning Post
List of Illustrations
Seven Threats to Ethics
1: The Threat of the Death of God
2: The Threat of Relativism
3: The Threat of Egoism
4: The Threat from Evolutionary Theory
5: The Threat of Determinism and Futility
6: The Threat of Unreasonable Demands
7: The Threat of False Consciousness
Some Ethical Ideas
10: Desire and the Meaning of Life
12: The Greatest Happiness of the Greatest Number
13: Freedom from the Bad
14: Freedom and Paternalism
15: Rights and Natural Rights
16: Reasons and Foundations
17: Living Well and Doing Good
18: The Categorical Imperative
19: Contracts and Discourse
20: The Common Point of View
21: Confidence Restored