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Ethics: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) [Paperback]

Harry J. Gensler
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

14 Feb 2011 0415803888 978-0415803885 2

Harry Gensler’s Ethics introduces undergraduates to the main issues in contemporary moral philosophy. It also relates these issues to practical controversies, with special attention paid to racism, moral education, and abortion. It gives a practical method for thinking about moral issues, a method based largely on the golden rule.

Key Features:
• Serves as either the sole textbook for a lower-level introduction to ethics/moral philosophy course or a supplementary text for a more advanced undergraduate ethics course
• Provides clear, direct writing throughout, making each chapter easily accessible for an engaged undergraduate
• Offers a philosophically rigorous presentation of the golden rule
• Includes helpful study aids, including: bolded technical terms, boxes for key ideas, chapter summaries, suggested readings, and a glossary/index

Key additions to the Second Edition:
• A new chapter on virtue ethics, which deals with Aristotle, Plato, and related controversies
• A new chapter on natural law theory, which deals with Aquinas, double effect, sexual morality, and related controversies
• A significantly revised chapter on the golden rule, which is now much clearer on certain key points
• A significantly revised chapter on nonconsequentialism, which now has expanded coverage of human rights, libertarianism, and socialism, and uses the right to health care as a case example
• An expanded bibliography
• A new appendix that overviews key books students will want to pursue upon completing Ethics: A Contemporary Introduction, Second Edition
• A rewritten instructional program, EthiCola, which is now much easier to download and use and has (for students) revised exercises for each chapter and (for instructors) a score-processing program, class slides, and instructor’s manual.  This can be found on the book’s companion website:

Frequently Bought Together

Ethics: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) + A Companion to Ethics (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (14 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415803888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415803885
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 680,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"There have been many introductions to ethics but none comes close to the clarity and student-friendliness that characterize Gensler’s Ethics: A Contemporary Introduction. The content is not only informative but also a pleasure to read. Gensler’s resourcefulness keeps producing engaging questions that hold the reader’s attention from cover to cover. Thoroughly researched and rigorously argued, this revised and amplified second edition will prove very valuable to lecturers of ethics and students for many years to come."Louis Caruana, S.J., Reader in Philosophy, Heythrop College, University of London

“Gensler's Ethics affords a concise and coherent account of the most significant frameworks of ethical thinking in contemporary ethics. It also offers readers a consistent and rigorous mode of analysis of each position. The text is replete with study questions and bibliographical resources. This second edition also adds a helpful new section on virtue ethics.”James Swindal, Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy, Duquesne University

About the Author

Harry J. Gensler, S.J., is Professor of Philosophy at John Carroll University in Cleveland. Some of his other books include Formal Ethics (1996), Ethics: Contemporary Readings (2004), Anthology of Catholic Philosophy (2005), Historical Dictionary of Logic (2006), Historical Dictionary of Ethics (2008), and Introduction to Logic, Second Edition (2010).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pristine! 6 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
what more can I say? It appeared to be brand new with not a mark on it.
Good price, came before time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid intro to philosophical ethics, just a bit bland and over-simplified 13 Oct 2013
By Transcendental Thomist - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Too many simplistic Hitler references (surely Nazism and racism are not the only moral evils?) and overly rationalized speculations about irrational human motives here, but this is a pretty solid (and thin!) paperback that delivers a breezy overview of different philosophical views of the good and what it requires of us. Father Gensler, a Jesuit moral philosopher, does a serviceable job of presenting both sides of every theory without resorting to straw men caricatures. As a quick summary of the pros and cons of different ethical views like utilitarianism, it's a pretty handy little book, and the accompanying exercises on Gensler's website (the "EthiCola" program) are a neat interactive supplement.

However, the treatment is inconsistent at times, and you'll find yourself arguing with Gensler to give a fair shake to certain theories he may be too quick to dismiss with vague refutations. He also relies too heavily on a Kantian duty ethics framework, limiting his analysis to theories of the good and the duties they require, without delving into more nuanced ethical concerns. Too much time is spent refuting other ethical theories as a prelude to advancing the author's own "Golden Rule consistency" theory based on the maxim (or central duty) of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Things become clear once Gensler finally unveils his theory for practicing the Golden Rule in a logically consistent way, but it's just a variation on Kant. As Gensler himself puts it on p. 93: "In many ways, my GR consistency view is a contemporary restatement of Kant's approach to ethics." Practically speaking, I'm not sure what Gensler's view contributes to human moral behavior, other than pointing out its frequent lack of logic.

That aside, each chapter is short and pretty digestible for students. The chapters are succinct and clear, following a simple pattern that makes it easier for students to grasp. If you follow Gensler in limiting ethics to the central question of "how should human beings act" in a way consistent with their understanding of what is good, and if you agree with his now-dated assumption that Kant said the last word in philosophy, you'll probably love this book. Otherwise, you might just find it to be a good read, held back only by its plodding tunnel vision.
2.0 out of 5 stars biased 2 Mar 2014
By Mark Pressman - Published on
Gensler spends the last chapter ("Synthesis") of his introduction to ethics textbook arguing that on the basis of consistency and the golden rule, all abortions are immoral, starting the moment after conception takes place. One of his arguments is: "Do you consent to the idea of my killing you now? No! Do you consent to the idea of my killing your yesterday? No! When you were five years old? No! When you were five days old? No! Just before you were born? Yes!" This is inconsistent according to Gensler.

The first 13 chapters were standard for introductory ethics books, but the last Synthesis chapter is surprising. Anyone taking critical thinking understands slippery slopes. The seed is not an oak tree, so what is true of the oak tree may or may not be true of the seed, and what is true of the seed may or may not be true of the oak tree, even if they are connected by imperceptibly small changes over time. So even if an adult objects to being killed, it doesn't necessarily tell us anything about whether or not a fetus should or should not be aborted.

Gensler should re-read Judith Jarvis Thomson's classic article and then Margaret Olivia Little's more recent article "Abortion." He could then recompose his final chapter to reflect a more balanced and objective approach to the abortion controversy, rather than arguing that the Golden Rule and consistency show abortions are wrong. Oddly, Gensler allows that abortions due to rape may be acceptable. He never delves into the reason why. (He claims aborting a defective fetus is wrong. He n ever mentions fetuses conceived through incest.) By not exploring why abortions due to rape might be ethically acceptable, Gensler has missed an opportunity to realize why some abortions are ethical (while others are not). The great dividing line is not the moment of conception and consistency or the Golden rule, but rather personhood, the rights of women and harm to persons. This mix of considerations will lead someone to a philosophically defensible categorization of which abortions are ethical and which unethical.

I do recommend Gensler's logic text, however, despite the criticisms here showing Gensler's bias concerning abortion.
3.0 out of 5 stars writing a paper. 17 Feb 2014
By robert - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this is the book that is required for my ethics 101 class. so far IMA, is a neat way to present the topic of each major position discussed in the reading. It is a great learning tool.
7 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a bad salespitch from a 13-year old internet blogger 2 Dec 2011
By IMHO - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had to use this book for an ethics course, and it made me want to cry, puke and rage (sometimes all at the same time).

The good thing with this book is:
1) it is short.

Now for the bad..
1) It fails to adhere to the minimal standards that one would expect in even an internet blog. It invokes "Nazi" and "Hitler" on 21 pages, (which is really impressive considering it is only 190 pages). Godwin would shake his head in disgust reading this book.
2) The writing, is what one would expect from a 13 year old internet blogger. Each section contains a speach from a character called Ima that makes silly anecdotes about the view they represent. Here's a quote to show how ridiculous it is "My name is Ima Utilitarian; but since my boyfriend also has the same first name, I usually go by the name 'Util.'" At the start of the book,it will make you roll your eyes... by the middle of the book it will make you want to puke ... by the end of the book you will rage whenever you see a new Ima appear (Did I mention it was a short book?).
3) The book reads like a bad salespitch. SPOILER: It is. The book is set up to promote Gensler's Golden-Rule Theory. He superficialy covers metaethical views, objects to them and then brings out his Golden Rule Theory, to which he adds on an interview style Q and A section, in which, he pitches himself questions and objections to his Golden Rule Theory, and tries to knock them out of the park.
4) "I once wrote a short article on the virtue of forgiveness". After selling you his views, Gensler feels the need to sell his accomplishments
5) The book ends with the Synthesis Chapter, in which Gensler sells his views on abortion. It trivializes the debate, as no genuine attempt is made to provide any balance (which is to be expected as Gensler is a champion of consistency).
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