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Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics Paperback – 14 Mar 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; 2Rev Ed edition (14 Mar. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192853775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192853776
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1 x 11.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Being Good is not your typical ethics book: its sleek physical dimensions mirror Simon Blackburn's intelligent but unencumbered treatment of the main threats and origins of ethics. Blackburn addresses the fear that "ethical claims are a kind of sham" before sketching a roadmap of the history of ethics, its practical consequences, and ultimate foundations. All this is an ambitious task for such a diminutive volume.

Simon Blackburn, a professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, is one of the giants of contemporary moral theory and a trustworthy guide through its labyrinth. He prefers parsimony to complexity--helpful for readers with only a casual acquaintance with philosophy--and yet he manages to avoid trivialising his subject matter. Moreover, Being Good is wonderfully enlivened by illustrations by Paul Klee, William Blake, Eugene Delacroix, Francisco de Goya, and even Vietnam war photography and cartoons. Blackburn concludes on a promising note: "If we are careful, and mature, and imaginative, and fair, and nice, and lucky, the moral mirror in which we gaze at ourselves may not show us saints. But it need not show us monsters, either." --Eric de Place --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

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, March 25 2001)

full of good sense (Sunday Times 21/04/2002)

But for anyone wondering how big questions have bothered us over the years, this witty, rigorous book fills in the gaps. (PLAY, The Times, 02/03/2002)

always lively and never simplistic (Waterstone's Quarterly January 2002)

Good clearheaded stuff (Ted Honderich Times 21/03/01)

'enjoyable and extremely readable . . . Blackburn . . . is breezy, helpful, reassuring' (The Philosopher's Magazine)

'sparklingly clear' (Guardian)

'a first rate and accessible guide which tackles the huge, perpetual questions' (Nottingham Evaning Post)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By AndyB on 2 April 2004
Format: Paperback
If, like me, you're a general reader with an interest in broadening your understanding of the way we think about the world, this book is indispensable.
I found the subject matter covered in 'Being Good' to be more practical than in 'Think', Blackburn's excellent introduction to Philosophy. Everyday ethical issues such as tolerance, faith, elitism, abortion and euthanasia demand more attention than questions on, say, the existence of gods or the nature of the self.
Blackburn writes with astonishing balance, subtlety and poise. He draws together, in a coherent, distilled structure, a variety of treatments and viewpoints: he necessarily sketches a wide overview, yet he also manages to include rigorous detail and historical context by quoting directly from sources. At times, he adds modern context by venturing his own original views, but always in a way that gives the reader space to draw her own conclusions. Rarely does an accomplished academic have such an ability to teach and popularize his subject.
The power of the book lies in its brevity. Frequent review of the main arguments results in the gaining of a set of invaluable contemporary thinking tools. So the next time someone says to me: 'That's just your opinion', I'll have a fully developed line of argument against that pernicious conversation stopper, 'relativism'. And for busy people who don't have time to plough through all the literature, 'Being Good' could be the only ethical guidebook they ever need.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By rogermath@msn.com on 14 April 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a concise, elegant little book written in a fluent, almost conversational style. It is also a scholarly book: the author wears his learning lightly.
The book contains 12 unusual and apposite illustrations, and contains as Appendix the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights. Part I of this short book is called Seven Threats to Ethics, Part II is called Some Ethical Ideas, Part III is called Foundations.
I enjoyed this book. The book is written concisely, and the author makes his points clearly and vividly. His remarks on the meaning of life (p.80) I found life-enhancing.
The book covers a lot of ground in a short space, and I am tempted to make comparisons with Principia Ethica by G E Moore, Ethics by Nowell-Smith, and the section on Ethics in Language, Truth & Logic by A J Ayer. Simon Blackburn's book compares very well with these three classics. His book is far more readable and contains a number of astute observations. The overall tone of the book is sane and cautiously up-beat.
Strongly recommended !
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Sept. 2001
Format: Hardcover
Blackburn manages to cover a lot of a ground in a short time, and is scholarly without being heavy. However, this book is often unevenly-paced, and leaves some important questions unanswered. I got most satisfaction from this book by reading it once, putting it aside for a while and then returning to it later.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Nov. 2001
Format: Hardcover
Blackburn has managed to create an intelligent introduction to the main questions without forgetting that his core readers are beginners.
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Format: Paperback
I think Simon Blackburn is one of our best popularisers of philosophy. This book provides insights into the practical problems around how we lives our lives, and as such is an excellent introduction to this subject. I have just one warning: The OUP has a book called ETHICS by the same author, as part of its A Very Short Introduction series, the inside of which says "This book, previously published as Being Good ...". So, if you already have that book, then you don't need this one.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very entertaining and informative little book. Ethics is not a subject I would normally have bothered reading about but I have found this book really thought provoking as it covers so many topics and questions that are relevant today. A good read and well worth buying.
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