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on 2 April 2004
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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on 14 April 2001
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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on 12 January 2011
Simon Blackburn is a genius in comprehensive writing on the psychological subject.
Third book I've read and ploughed trough it, no worries: very good to read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 March 2016
I found this to be a quite poor book. It's far too short to properly introduce the subject of 'ethics'. And it's written in a manner that young adults (children aged 12-16) could understand. While I'm sure such young adults might benefit from this book, I doubt it was intended to be a book for this age group.

The author is well known for seeking to popularise philosophy. But here he offers a watered-down description of ethics. And he inserts his own ideas in a way that makes the book too biased. Had he decided to produce a book that advanced his own viewpoint, that's fine - but it wouldn't be an 'introduction' to the subject.

So, overall, this is a mixed-up and muddled book. If all you're after is a bit of light reading while sat on the toilet, okay this book serves a purpose. Otherwise, leave it aside.
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on 26 September 2001
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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on 27 April 2015
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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on 21 November 2001
Blackburn has managed to create an intelligent introduction to the main questions without forgetting that his core readers are beginners.
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on 19 March 2012
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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on 20 July 2013
I found this fascinating. Very well written, full of ideas, particularly relevant today. Clearly explains all kinds of concepts and ethical ideas which I hadn't really understood before.
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on 26 January 2016
Thoroughly concise and enjoyable piece by a respected author. After reading this and looking in the mirror, you may not see a saint, but you need not see a monster either.
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