You Decide! Current Debates in Ethics

Prentice Hall
Bruce N. Waller  
Total pages
Januar 2006
Related Titles


This inexpensive anthology features pairs of articles by contemporary philosophers about timeless and universal  issues in ethical theory that still resonate with students today.


  • Covering important philosophical issues aimed at today's students, paired articles "talk to each other," thus setting up a clear "pro-con" format.    
  • Each pair of readings features an introduction with a list of "Points to Ponder" which focuses students on the issues they'll encounter as they read.
  • Each issue ends with a conclusion entitled "The Continuing Debate"  with subheads "What is New” and "Where to Find More" to encourage further study and discussion.
  • Priced affordably, “You Decide!” can be used on its own or as a supplement to another book.  Additional discounts apply when packaged with Waller's Consider Ethics or any Longman text.

Table of Contents

Debate 1: Ethics and Religion: Does Religion Undercut Ethics or Provide Vital Support for Ethics?

Religion Undercuts Ethics.

Advocate: James Rachels.  Source: “God and Human Experience.”

Religion Provides Vital Support for Ethics.       

Advocate: George N. Schlesinger.

Source:  New Perspectives on Old-Time Religion.

Debate 2:  Reason, Objectivity, and Ethics:  Can Reason Guide Us to Objective Ethical Truths?

Reason Cannot Discover Ethical Truths.

Advocate: Bernard Williams.

Source: Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.

Reason Can Discover Ethical Truths.    

Advocate: Thomas Nagel.

Source: The Last Word.

Debate 3:  Is Ethics Based on a Social Contract?

Social Contract Theory Offers the Best Grounds for Ethics.

Advocate: David Gauthier.

Source:  “Why Contractarianism?”

Social Contract Theory is an Inadequate Account of Ethics.

Advocate: Jean Hampton.

Source:  “Two Faces of Contractarian Thought.”

Debate 4:  Can Consequentialism Make Room for Friendship?

Consequentialism Can Accommodate the Value of Friendship.

Advocate: Peter Railton.

Source: “Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality.”

 Consequentialism Leaves No Room for Friendship.

Advocate: Michael Stocker.

Source: “The Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories.”

Debate 5:  Morality: Universal Principles of Justice or Specific Caring Relationships?

Caring Relationships Can Take Precedence.

Advocate: Virginia Held.

Source: “Caring Relations and Principles of Justice.”

Justice and Care Operate Together.

Advocate: Claudia Card.

Source: “Particular Justice and General Care.”

Debate 6: Do Moral Obligations Always Take Precedence?

We Should Limit the Demands of Morality.

Advocate: Susan Wolf.

Source: “Moral Saints.”

Following the Strongest Demands of Morality is a Worthwhile Goal.

Advocate: Robert Merrihew Adams.

Source: “Saints.”

Debate 7:  Do Women Have a Distinctive Ethical Perspective?

Women Have a Distinctive Ethical Perspective.

Advocate: Annette Baier.

Source:  “What Do Women Want in a Moral Theory?”

Gender Does not Distinguish Different Moral Perspectives.

Advocate: Marilyn Friedman.

Source: “Beyond Caring: The De-Moralization of Gender.”

Debate 8:  Can Virtue Theory Offer Moral Direction?

Virtue Ethics Offers Effective Moral Guidance.

Advocate: Rosalind Hursthouse.

Source: On Virtue Ethics.

Virtue Ethics Leaves Loose Ends.

Advocates: David Copp and David Sobel.

Source: “Morality and Virtue: An Assessment of Some Recent Work in Virtue Ethics.”

Debate 9:  Does Contemporary Psychological Research Threaten Virtue Theory?

Virtue Theory is Undercut by Contemporary Psychological Research.

Advocate: Gilbert Harman.

Source: “Moral Philosophy Meets Social Psychology: Virtue Ethics and the Fundamental Attribution Error.”

Virtue Theory is not Damaged by Contemporary Psychological Research.

Advocate: James Montmarquet.

Source: “Moral Character and Social Science Research.”

Debate 10:  Is Moral Psychology Relevant to Moral Philosophy?

Moral Psychology Requires Changes in Moral Philosophy.

Advocate: Mark L. Johnson.

Source: “How Moral Psychology Changes Moral Theory.”

Moral Psychology Has Little Effect on Moral Philosophy.

Advocate: Virginia Held.

Source: “Whose Agenda?  Ethics Versus Cognitive Science.”

Debate 11:  How Did Moral Behavior Develop?

Morality Developed as a Means of Controlling Powerful Group Members.

Advocate: Christopher Boehm.

Source: “Conflict and the Evolution of Social Control.”

Morality Developed to Protect Systems of Cooperative Exchange.

Advocate: Dennis Krebs.

Source: “As Moral as We Need to Be.”

Debate 12:  Pragmatism and the Dispute Over Value Objectivity

There Are Truths About Values.

Advocate: Hilary Putnam.

Source: “Are Values Made or Discovered?”

There Are No Truths About Values.

Advocate: Richard Rorty.

Source: “Relativism: Finding and Making.”

Debate 13:  Is Morality Relative to Culture or Objectively and Universally True?

Morality is Relative.

Advocate: Gilbert Harman.

Source:  “Is There a Single True Morality?”

Morality is Objectively True.

Advocate: Carol Rovane.

Source: “Earning the Right to Realism or Relativism in Ethics.”

Debate 14:  Is Cultural Relativism a Helpful Approach to Ethics?

Ethical Cultural Relativism Should be Rejected.

Advocate: Ruth Macklin.

Source: Against Relativism: Cultural Diversity and the Search for Ethical Universals in Medicine.

Ethical Cultural Relativism Has Some Advantages.

Advocate: Elvin Hatch.

Source: “The Good Side of Relativism.”

Debate 15:  Is Morality an Ideological Illusion?

Close Examination of Morality Reveals its Ideological Nature.

Advocate:  Anthony Skillen.

Source: “Is Morality a Ruling Illusion?”

The Objectivity of Morality Remains an Open Possibility.

Advocate: Peter Railton

Source: “Morality, Ideology, and Reflection; or, The Duck Sits Yet.”

Debate 16: Is Partiality Toward Fellow Citizens Morally Justified? 

Partiality Toward Fellow Citizens Should be Very Limited.

Advocate: Jeff McMahan.

Source: “The Limits of National Partiality.”

Significant Partiality Toward Fellow Citizens is Justified.

Advocate: Thomas Hurka.

Source: “The Justification of National Partiality.”

Debate 17:  Is Moral Responsibility Morally Justified?

Moral Responsibility is Morally Legitimate.

Advocate: Daniel C. Dennett.

Source:  Freedom Evolves.

Moral Responsibility is Ultimately Unjustified.

Advocate: Saul Smilansky.

Source: “Compatibilism: The Argument from Shallowness."

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