Ethics for beginners: 52 "big ideas" from 32 great minds

South Bend, Indiana: St. Augustine's Press (2019)
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Abstract

One universal anonymous sage : the Rta/Tao/Logos -- Four sages from the East. The Hindu tradition : the four wants of man -- Buddha : Nirvana -- Confucius : social harmony -- Lao Tzu : nature's way -- Three sages from the West. Moses : divine law -- Jesus : agape love -- Muhammad : "Islam" -- Three classic Greek founders of philosophy. Socrates : the primacy of wisdom ("Virtue is knowledge") -- Plato: No double standard : ethics and politics ; Platonic Ideas : the objective reality of goodness ; Justice as health of soul and therefore always profitable -- Aristotle: Happiness as the end, the greatest good ; Virtue as the road to happiness ; The good as teleological ; The golden mean as the key to virtue ; Ethics as dependent on metaphysics ; The (later) idea of "natural law" -- Three lesser but more popular ancient philosophers. Protagoras -- Epicurus: Hedonism -- Epicurus: Stoicism -- Three medieval Christian saints. St. Augustine: Love as gravity ; Only two kinds of people ; The restless heart -- St. Anselm : the good greater than which nothing can be thought -- Thomas Aquinas: The role of faith and reason ; Four kinds of law ; The four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues ; Eight candidates for happiness -- Three modern political philosophers. Machiavelli : the good as the practical -- Hobbes : the good as power -- Rousseau : the good as feeling -- Three classic modern ethical alternatives. Hume : the good as subjective -- Kant: The good as goodwill ; Goodwill as duty ; Duty as the "categorical imperative" -- Mill : utilitarianism : the good as maximally happy consequences -- Three Existentialists. Kierkegaard : aesthetics, ethics, and religion -- Nietzsche: The genealogy of morals as resentment ; The Superman : "beyond good and evil" ; "The will to power" -- Sartre: God vs. freedom ; Love vs. freedom -- Two Personalists. Marcel: Being as value ; Mysteries vs. problems ; "Creative fidelity" -- Von Hildebrand: Three kinds of value ; The ethics of the heart -- Three analytic philosophers. Ayer : the good as meaningless -- Moore : the good as indefinable -- Wittgenstein : the good as "mystical" -- Is ethics dead? MacIntyre "After Virtue" vs. Aquinas.

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Peter John Kreeft
Boston College

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