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A Short History of Ethics: A History of Moral Philosophy from the Homeric Age to the 20th Century: A History of Moral Philosophy from the Homeric Age to the Twentieth Century (Routledge Classics) [Paperback]

Alasdair MacIntyre
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

9 May 2002 Routledge Classics
A Short History of Ethics has over the past thirty years become a key philosophical contribution to studies on morality and ethics. Alasdair MacIntyre writes a new preface for this second edition which looks at the book 'thirty years on' and considers its impact. A Short History of Ethics guides the reader through the history of moral philosophy from the Greeks to contemporary times. MacIntyre emphasises the importance of a historical context to moral concepts and ideas showing the relevance of philosophical queries on moral concepts and the importance of a historical account of ethics.
A Short History of Ethics is an important contribution written by one of the most important living philosophers. Ideal for all philosophy students interested in ethics and morality.

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A Short History of Ethics: A History of Moral Philosophy from the Homeric Age to the 20th Century: A History of Moral Philosophy from the Homeric Age to the Twentieth Century (Routledge Classics) + After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; Rev Ed edition (9 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415287499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415287494
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Very powerful ... this book is an impressive contribution to our endless argument about the meaning of ethical concepts.' -- The Observer

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable overview of the history of ethics 15 Sep 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
This book offers a great deal if you are interested in the history of ethics; particularly, what the great philosophers had to say regarding ethics, and what movements have re-shaped ethical discussion (e.g. romanticism, the reformation etc).

MacIntyre displays a thorough knowledge of the ideas of the ancient greek philosophers, dedicating a large share of this book to Aristotle and Plato. His outline here is very impressive, which addresses the complexities in understanding the subtle differences in meanings in greek language, and how these differences can help us understand the mindset of the people and the times (for example, the equivalent words for terms such as 'good' connotated slightly different things, e.g. one could not be 'good' and fail. For in some cases, 'Failure' was a closer binary opposite to 'good' than many terms which would seem more meaningful opposites today).

Unfortuneatley, the section regarding christian ethics is very slight (particularly early, through to the medieval period), which leaves this an unbalanced work, considering there is three whole chapters on Plato. He confesses that his understanding of christian ethics was inadequate at the time of writing thsi book, and highlights errors and inadequacies in the preface. For this reason, I recommend buying this routledge classics edition, as it has a superb and honest preface, where MacIntyre expresses how the book was recieved and acknowledges a number of criticisms.

The book is noteably impressive for the outline of greek ethics (and contextualising them), but there is a very good account of the key approaches to ethics in the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s, e.g. regarding Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzche through to the movements of the 1900s (e.g.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Outline 18 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback
This book is a very readable outline of the history of western moral philosophy. I found it highly enjoyable and also think I learned something from reading it. Perhaps I could compare it to Russell's History of Western Philosophy, though limited to the field of ethics. Like Russell, MacIntyre makes his opinins known at times, but one doesn't have to agree with him to enjoy the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'Ethics' are social and historical 29 Mar 2013
By stupot
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
More than just a social history of 'ethical concepts', this is a strong argument for the historically-rooted nature of ethical concepts in forms of life without falling into the infinite regress of a Wittgensteinian notion of something like 'language games'. MacIntyre presents a cogent argument for the philosophical analysis of 'ethics' as an active intervention in ethical forms of life.

Not always easy reading, but well worth the effort.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Useful and interesting guide to Ethics 16 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback
This is an intelligent and useful overview of the development of ethics, or at least the western approach to ethics. It balances well the needs of a history of ideas and providing some useful explorations philosophy itself. Not too difficult to read without a deep philosophical education, although some familiarity with certain concepts is helpful.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for the prepared reader 3 Feb 2003
By E. Nilsson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a reissue of a 1964 work. MacIntyre provides a new introduction that critically reviews what he sees as the strength and weaknesses of the book. The book itself, however, is unchanged from the 1964 text.
Beginners will find this a difficult book to work through. MacIntyre presumes the reader has a basic understanding of the ideas and philosophers he discusses.
But for those with adequate background this is a wonderful book, full of many insights. Be warned, though, this book is not a neutral review of the subject matter. In this book MacIntyre lays the groundwork for his own particular version of ethics (developed most fully in After Virtue).
Much of the book is dense and part of it is, arguably, poorly written. But it is worth the work needed to get through it.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction 28 Jan 2007
By Matko Vladanovic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was always in a certain kind of doubt when it was asked of me to recommend one or the other of numerous histories of philosophy. They are not your ordinary texts, which you can browse about in your leasure time. They often require some thinking to really grasp what author had in mind and where does he stand at all. After all history of philosophy is elusive subject even to profficient ones. Looking back, in something less than seven thousand years of culture as we know it (it began with emergence of Summerian epos - Gilgamesh), one finds himself before wast ammount of data, to put it that way. When faced with them, one feels compelled to escape in any direction avaliable to him.

But neverthelles, something drives you to continue your studies, to learn and feed upon knowledge of others, to live in times long forgotten and to think an re-think thought again and again. But without that initial spark which puts great flames in motion all would be in vain. MacIntyre book is one that feeds that flame, helping it to grow.

If one really wants to understand key questions of ethics and how, at the first place they came to be, one should start with MacIntyre. You won't find your asnwers listed here, rather contrary, MacIntyre, in his almost positivistic scepticism, states many pro et contra arguments for theories presented in his book, that reader finds himself confused on many occasions. But precisely that kind of expose is what drives one to continue searching and to complete questions posed by MAcIntyre. A task that takes whole lifetime and more.

In the end I have to mention that ethics described here concernes itself mostly with western ethics and ethical thought. East is left out. For which purpose, I'll let you find for yourself.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY POORLY EDITED "KINDLE" ED. 20 Mar 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wonder if the other reviewers who panned this book stuff their own shirts or send them out. I suspect that rather than disliking the book they dislike the message. MacIntyre uses this book to drop the bread crumbs to lead moderns back to the foundation of Western Civilization, which curiously enough takes us back to the beginning. "You shall not cease from exploration; and the end of your exploring will be to arrive where you started and to know the place for the first time." MacIntyre is one of those philosophers who holds that there is a real world, that there are right and wrong choices for human beings, that we have screwed up our language and philosophical discourse to the point where they mean nothing and the only answer is to rectify our basic understanding, to recalibrate our thought to reality. I find the author to be difficult because his thought is so loaded with content and one must follow him carefully. DON'T BUY THE KINDLE EDITION YET. THE GREEK TERMS ARE DISTORED BY POOR SCANNING AND THERE ARE NUMBEROUS TYPOS (LIKE LEAVING OUT THE WORD "NOT" IN A SENTENCE).
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unevenly engaging History of Ethics 6 May 2010
By R. Haecker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Alasdair MacIntyre's "A Short History of Ethics" is an uneven attempt at examining the history of Western culture through the development of ethics. It is quite clear that MacIntyre aims to advance his thesis of the decline of morality and ethical philosophy in the modern era with this short history of ethics. MacIntyre is generally skeptical and critical of most ethical theories, and offers a succinct criticism of most theories immediately after introducing them. While some chapters, like those on Homeric and pre-classical and Hellenistic Greek Philosophy, Christianity, New Values, and Modern Moral philosophy, offer engaging insights, others are redundant and seemingly irrelevant to the advancement of his general thesis. MacIntyre admits in the preface that this book suffers from too many aims. This problem is most troubling when MacIntyre attempts to offer a ~20-page summary of Plato or Aristotle which can neither be expected to inform the advanced reader or to introduce these seminal philosophers to beginning students of philosophy. While there are surely better "History of Philosophy" and "History of Ethics" books available, MacIntyre's "Short History of Ethics" occasionally surprises the reader with insightful criticisms and arguments which make it an uneven if mildly engaging little book on Ethics.
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable outline 12 Jun 2014
By A. Lindholm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is a very readable outline of the history of western moral philosophy. I found it highly enjoyable and also think I learned something from reading it. Perhaps I could compare it to Russell's History of Western Philosophy, though limited to the field of ethics. Like Russell, MacIntyre makes his opinins known at times, but one doesn't have to agree with him to enjoy the book.
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