This non-technical introduction to ethics explores how we find true or reasonable moral principles, applicable to current concerns and issues. The reader is presented with seven radically different basic moral theories. Each theory attempts to provide an ultimate answer to the question of what ought to be done and why. Each theory is carefully described, put into historical perspective and critically assessed. The theories covered are: utilitarianism, egoism, deontological ethics, the ethics of rights, virtue ethics, feminist ethics, environmental or ecological ethics.
The contribution to contemporary philosophy of Alasdair MacIntyre is enormous. His writings on ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, philosophy of the social sciences and the history of philosophy have established him as one of the philosophical giants of the last fifty years.
Must good deeds be rewarded and wrongdoers punished? Would God be unjust if He failed to punish and reward? And what is it about good or evil actions and moral identity that might generate such necessities? These were some of the vital religious and philosophical questions that eighth- and ninth-century Mu’tazilite theologians and their sophisticated successors attempted to answer, giving rise to a distinctive ethical position and one of the most prominent and controversial intellectual trends in medieval Islam. The Mu’tazilites developed a view of ethics whose distinguishing features were its austere moral objectivism and the crucial role it assigned to reason in the knowledge of moral truths. Central to this ethical vision was the notion of moral desert, and of the good and evil consequences–reward or punishment–deserved through a person’s acts. Moral Agents and Their Desertsis the first book-length study of this central theme in Mu’tazilite ethics, and an attempt to grapple with the philosophical questions it raises. At the same time, it is a bid to question the ways in which modern readers, coming to medieval Islamic thought with a philosophical interest, seek to read and converse with Mu’tazilite theology.Moral Agents and Their Desertstracks the challenges and rewards involved in the pursuit of the right conversation at the seams between modern and medieval concerns.