15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Worth reading more than once,
This review is from: Ethics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I greatly enjoy Oxford's Very Short Introduction series. I work with some very able pupils who are studying Critical Thinking and in the process of applying for courses in medicine and law at highly competitive universities, and I chose this book to help me engage with them. I also wanted to learn more about the field for myself. As the author, a Cambridge professor, says in the introduction, this book was previously published as 'Being Good'. It begins by addressing seven perceived threats to mature ethical thinking, the first of which is religion. For Blackburn, this seems chiefly to mean the Bible: a few pages are spent on Jesus' 'moral quirks' and the old internet chestnut 'Dr Laura', and Nietzsche who is quoted 'in full flow'. The book is premised on an argument that ethical living need take no account of God/a god/gods. Throughout, by examining specific areas of difficulty and the history of ethical thought, Blackburn exposes difficulties with relativism, utilitarianism and other views. He writes elegantly, using helpful illustrations and thought-provoking images, and with some humour. If I found some parts hard to follow because of the necessary compression of explanation, it only prompted me to re-read those parts and explore the works of ethical philosophers for myself. For these reasons I would recommend this book as an excellent starting point. Readers may also wish to visit Blackburn's witty website, easily reached by searching under his name.