Online Guide to Ethics and Moral Philosophy


Robert Cavalier

Philosophy Department
Carnegie Mellon

Part I History of Ethics

Preface: The Life of Socrates
Section 1: Greek Moral Philosophy
Section 2: Hellenistic and Roman Ethics
Section 3: Early Christian Ethics
Section 4: Modern Moral Philosophy
Section 5: 20th Century Analytic Moral Philosophy

Part II Concepts and Problems

Preface: Meta-ethics, Normative Ethics and Applied Ethics
Section 1: Ethical Relativism
Section 2: Ethical Egoism
Section 3: Utilitarian Theories
Section 4: Deontological Theories
Section 5: Virtue Ethics
Section 6: Liberal Rights and Communitarian Theories
Section 7: Ethics of Care
Section 8: Case-based Moral Reasoning
Section 9: Moral Pluralism

Part III Applied Ethics

Preface: The Field of Applied Ethics
Section 1: The Topic of Euthanasia
Multimedia Module: A Right to Die? The Dax Cowart Case
Section 2: The Topic of Abortion
Multimedia Module: The Issue of Abortion in America
Postscript: Conflict Resolution

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Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

"All the beauty and sublimity we have bestowed upon real and imaginary things, I will reclaim as the property and product of man: as his fairest apology: Man as poet, as thinker, as God, as love, as power: with what regal liberality he has lavished gifts upon things so as to impoverish himself and make himself feel wretched! His most unselfish act hitherto has been to admire and worship and to know how to conceal from himself that it was he who created what he admired." (Section I, Will to Power )

From the Preface to The Birth of Tragedy

"...Perhaps the depth of this antimoral propensity is best inferred from the careful and hostile silence with which Christianity is treated throughout the whole book -- Christianity as the most prodigal elaboration of the moral theme to which humanity has ever been subjected.... Behind this mode of thought and valuation... I never failed to sense a hostility to life -- a furious, vengeful antipathy to life itself.... Christianity was from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, life's nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in "another" or "better" life. Hatred of "the world," condemnations of the passions, fear of beauty and sensuality, a beyond invented the better to slander this life, at bottom a craving for the nothing, for the end, for respite, for "the sabbath of sabbaths" -- all this always struck me, no less than the unconditional will of Christianity to recognize only moral values, as the most dangerous and uncanny form of all possible forms of a "will to decline" -- at the very least a sign of abysmal sickness, weariness, discouragement, exhaustion, and the impoverishment of life. For, confronted with morality (especially Christian, or unconditional, morality), life must continually and inevitably be in the wrong, because life is something essentially amoral -- and eventually, crushed by the weight of contempt and the eternal No, life must then be felt to be unworthy of desire and altogether worthless...."
See Richard Schacht's commentary on Nietzsche's notion of the social nature of morality.

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Copyright 2002 (first published 1/96)

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