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Applied Ethics: A Non-Consequentialist Approach [Paperback]

By Oderberg (Author)
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Item description for Applied Ethics: A Non-Consequentialist Approach by Oderberg...

Recent years have seen the revival of the application of moral philosophy to contemporary practical problems, and a corresponding explosion of books on the subject. Most of these books, however, defend approaches that are consequentialist or specifically utilitarian in nature. Applied Ethics, and its companion volume Moral Theory, provide a viable alternative to consequentialist orthodoxy. It focuses the central concepts of traditional morality - rights, justice, the good, virtue, and the fundamental value of human life - on a number of pressing contemporary problems, including abortion, euthanasia, animals, capital punishment, and war.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wiley-Blackwell
Pages   264
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.05" Width: 6.05" Height: 0.85"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 7, 2000
Publisher   Wiley-Blackwell
ISBN  0631219056  
ISBN13  9780631219057  

Availability  147 units.
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More About Oderberg

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! David S. Oderberg is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Reading. A graduate of the Universities of Melbourne and Oxford, he is author of The Metaphysics of Identity over Time (1993); co-editor, with Jacqueline A. Laing, of Human Lives: Critical Essays on Consequentialist Bioethics (1997), and editor of Form and Matter: Themes in Contemporary Metaphysics (Blackwell, 1999).

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Ethics & Morality
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Applied Ethics: A Non-Consequentialist Approach?

A must-read for everyone who has ever struggled to accept Singer's Practical Ethics  Mar 19, 2008
As an undergraduate student in philosophy I found it difficult to swallow Singer's 'Practical Ethics' which my professors treated as dogma. 'Applied Ethics: A Non-Consequentialist Approach' by Oderberg is exactly the book I needed to help me defend my conservative views. Oderberg has provided us with exactly what has been wanting in current philosophy: a lucid, rational and highly accessible defense of traditional values.

Chapter 1 - Abortion. Oderberg goes through countless arguments in favour of abortion and offers compelling objections to these arguments. For example, a common argument in favour of abortion is that the foetus only becomes a human being, or that wrongness only comes into play, when the foetus is born. Oderberg counters this argument by illustrating how the concepts of visibility and separateness are morally irrelevant. Oderberg argues that the foetus is a human being from conception onwards. He establishes the validity of this position through the continuity of development argument (p.8). He makes the distinction between humanity and personhood positing that it is the `human being [not the person] who has a right to life, in virtue of being the kind of thing which, in virtue of a special capacity, typically exercises certain functions of rationality and self-consciousness which are rightly considered to be of the highest moral importance' (p.40).

Chapter 2 - Euthanasia. Oderberg addresses a number of arguments in favour of euthanasia. For example, the person (be they in a coma or a persistent non-responsive state etc.) has no quality of life. Oderberg points out that proponents of this argument confuse intrinsic and instrumental value regarding quality of life (p.67). Oderberg adheres to the principle of double effect. He distinguishes between passive and active euthanasia, as well as between ordinary and extraordinary means.

Chapter 3 - Animals. Oderberg addresses arguments pro- and anti- animal rights by such philosophers as Regan, Singer, Donald Davidson, Anthony Kenny, Peter Carruthers, and David DeGrazia. He essentially argues that animals are not rights bearers, but that this does not mean that they do not come `within the scope of our proper moral consideration (p.99).'

Chapter 4 - Capital Punishment. Oderberg argues in favour of capital punishment in certain cases. He posits that the doctrine of the sanctity of life applies only to the innocent. He argues that such a view is not inconsistent with his anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia views and is not, therefore, hypocritical. Inconsistency and hypocrisy, he argues, is to be found where philosophers argue for euthanasia and against capital punishment. These philosophers posit that we should be merciful to murderers and let them live, yet they also argue that we should be merciful to the handicapped and old and let them die. They can therefore be seen to be inconsistent when it comes to mercy. They can further be seen to be inconsistent and hypocritical when one looks at the reasons why they support abortion and euthanasia. These reasons pivot on consequentialist considerations which, argues Oderberg, are inconsistently applied. For example, if you support abortion because it can results in the greater benefit, you should consistently support capital punishment because it also can result in the greater good. Consequentialist considerations, however, are not of prime importance in Oderberg's view.

Chapter 5 - War. Oderberg is a just-war theorist, that is, he argues that some wars are just and others are unjust. He bases his argument on the individual right to self-defense which he extends to countries. He looks at just and unjust causes of war, justifiable and unjustifiable conduct during war, as well as the idea of global goveranance, of which he is skeptical.

In sum, I wholeheartedly recommend this book and personally look forward to reading its companion edition 'Moral Theory.'
A Challenging Defense of Traditional Morality  Jun 5, 2000
In Applied Ethics, David S. Oderberg applies traditional Aristotelian-Thomist moral theory to a number of controversial moral issues, reaching conclusions in each case likely to give fits to anyone enamored of contemporary moral attitudes. Be forwarned, Oderberg's book is the antithesis of political correctness. In its five chapters, Oderberg's Applied Ethics argues on purely rational grounds that abortion and euthanasia are always wrong and are in fact forms of murder, that animals are not moral agents hence have no rights, that the death penalty is morally permissible and that it is possible for there to be a just war even in the very changed circumstances of today. Applied Ethics presupposes the doctrine of Oderberg's Moral Theory and should be read in tandem with it. However, those already familiar with traditional Catholic moral theology of the sort that was the stuff of the scholastic manuals should be well prepared to read Applied Ethics - indeed, should even be able to anticipate much of what Oderberg will say. Since I find myself in substantial agreement with Oderberg's conclusions and most of his arguments, I will confine myself to just a few points of agreement and disagreement. First of all, Oderberg does a good job of presenting the feebleness and irrelevance of most of the popular arguments for the permissibility of abortion and euthanasia, as well as the radical principles which lie behind those arguments which one finds openly expressed by such fringe figures as Peter Singer and Michael Tooley. However, his analysis of the famous Violinist case (devised by Judith Thomson - see pp. 22-31) seems to me to be flawed. Oderberg apparently concludes that it would be murder for me to detach myself from the violinist since it means his death and this is highly counterintuitive: if the violinist had no right to the use of my kidneys to begin with, how can it be my obligation to stay hooked up to him, especially if I was attached without (or even against) my consent? On Oderberg's own principles, there are numerous bases for for disanalogies between the violinist case and that of abortion (even if pregnancy is the result of rape or incest). For example, the acts and omissions doctrine surely supports a distinction between killing and letting die; to perform an abortion I have to make a direct attack on the fetus, whereas if I detach myself from the violinist I am merely letting nature take its course - it is his illness, not I, that brings about his death. In a like manner, the acts and omissions doctrine supports the intuition that my obligation not to kill human beings is much stronger than that to save innocent lives, which is also clearly relevant to this case. With regard to euthanasia and capital punishment, Oderberg does a good job of exposing the hypocrisy underlying the "brain-death" criterion and the baselessness of the "consistent life ethic" which fails to draw the obvious distinction between guilty and innocent lives. However, his seeming endorsement of feelings of revenge (see pp. 149-50) and his complete silence on the notion of foregiveness are disturbing. I also suspect that exponents of animal rights will find much to criticize in his discussion of that issue as well. Applied Ethics, like its companion volume, should be read critically both by those who are attracted to its doctrines and to those opposed to them in order that Oderberg's positions and the theory behind them (which I regard as fundamentally sound) can be sharpened and more completely articulated. On this basis, I recommend this book to all moral philosophers and others interested in these topics who are capable of discussing them rationally.

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