Now in its seventh edition, The Moral of the Story continues to bring understanding to difficult concepts in moral philosophy through storytelling and story analysis. Students will study ethical relativism by examining the film Avatar, explore utilitarianism through The Invention of Lying, and discuss Kant’s deontology by examining Woody Allen’s Match Point. They will consider virtue ethics by juxtaposing Plato’s “Myth of the Cave” with the themes in The Truman Show. Rosenstand’s work is lively and relatable, and students will enjoy discussing examples from contemporary film, fiction narratives, and even popular comic strips.
PART 1: The Story as a Tool of Ethics
Chapter 1: Thinking About Values
Do We Need a Code of Ethics?
Values, Morals, and Ethics
Good and Evil
Debating Moral Issues from Religion to Neurobiology and Storytelling
Martha Nussbaum: Stories, Ethics, and Emotions
A Philosophical Example, a Real-Life Event, and Two Fictional Stories about Lying
Primary Reading: Martha Nussbaum, Love's Knowledge
Primary Reading: Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect
Narrative: Smoke Signals
Narrative: Big Fish
Narrative: East of Eden
Chapter 2: Learning Moral Lessons from Stories
The New Interest in Stories Across the Professions
The Value of Stories Across Time and Space
Primary Reading: Plato, Republic, Book X
Primary Reading: Aristotle, Poetics
Primary Reading: Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
Primary Reading: Raymond Chandler, "The Simple Art of Murder"
Narrative: The Sorrows of Young Werther
Narrative: The Education of Mingo
Narrative: Pulp Fiction
PART 2: What Should I Do? Ethics of Conduct
Chapter 3: Ethical Relativism
How to Deal with Moral Differences
The Lessons of Anthropology
Problems with Ethical Relativism
Refuting Ethical Relativism
James Rachels and Soft Universalism
Ethical Relativism and Multiculturalism
Primary Reading: Ruth Benedict, "Anthropology and the Abnormal"
Primary Reading: James Rachels, "Problems from Philosophy"
Primary Reading: John Steinbeck, "Paradox and Dream"
Narrative: The Poisonwood Bible
Narrative: Possessing the Secret of Joy
Chapter 4: Myself or Others?
Psychological Egoism: What About the Heroes?
Psychological Egoism: From Glaucon to Hobbes
Three Major Problems With Psychological Egoism
Ethical Egoism, Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, and Its Critics
Being Selfless: Levinas's Ideal Altruism Versus Singer's Reciprocal Altruism
A Natural Fellow-Feeling? Hume and de Waal
Primary Reading: Plato, The Republic
Primary Reading: Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
Primary Reading: Ayn Rand, "The Ethics of Emergencies"
Primary Reading: Frans de Waal, Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved
Narrative: Friends episode: "The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS"
Narrative: Return to Paradise
Narrative: Atlas Shrugged
Chapter 5: Using Your Reason, Part 1: Utilitarianism
Jeremy Bentham and the Hedonistic Calculus
Advantages and Problems of Sheer Numbers: From Animal Welfare to the Question of Torture
John Stuart Mill: Higher and Lower Pleasures
Mill's Harm Principle
Act and Rule Utilitarianism
Primary Reading: Jeremy Bentham, "Of the Principle of Utility"
Primary Reading: John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism
Primary Reading: Peter Singer, "A Convenient Truth"
Narrative: "The Blacksmith and the Baker"
Narrative: The Brothers Karamazov
Narrative: "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas"
Narrative: Extreme Measures
Narrative: The Invention of Lying
Chapter 6: Using Your Reason, Part 2: Kant's Deontology
Consequences Don't Count—Having a Good Will Does
The Categorical Imperative
Rational Beings Are Ends in Themselves
Beings Who Are Things
The Kingdom of Ends
Primary Reading: Immanuel Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals
Primary Reading: Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals
Narrative: High Noon
Narrative: 3:10 to Yuma
Narrative: Match Point
Chapter 7: Personhood, Rights, and Justice
What Is a Human Being?
The Expansion of the Concept "Human"
Personhood: The Key to Rights
Science and Moral Responsibility: Genetic Engineering, Stem Cell Research, and Cloning
Questions of Rights and Equality
Distributive Justice: From Rawls to Affirmative Action
Forward- and Backward-Looking Justice and Affirmative Action
Criminal Justice: Restorative Versus Retributive Justice
Primary Reading: Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Primary Reading: Jürgen Habermas, The Future of Human Nature
Primary Reading: John Rawls, "Justice as Fairness"
Primary Reading: Martin Luther King, Jr., "A Letter from a Birmingham Jail"
Primary Reading: Two Texts on Discrimination:
John Bertreaux, “Defining Racism in the 21st Century” and “Unseen, Unheard, Unchosen”
Narrative: The Island
Narrative: Mississippi Burning
Narrative: Hotel Rwanda
PART 3: How Should I Be? Virtue Ethics
Chapter 8: Virtue Ethics from Tribal Philosophy to Socrates and Plato
What Is Virtue? What Is Character?
Non-Western Virtue Ethics: Africa and Indigenous America
Virtue Ethics in the West
The Good Teacher: Socrates' Legacy, Plato's Works
The Good Life
The Virtuous Person: The Tripartite Soul
Plato's Theory of Forms
Plato's Influence on Christianity
Primary Reading: Plato, The Republic
Primary Reading: Plato, Apology
Primary Reading: Ronald Dworkin, What Is a Good Life?
Narrative: A Man for All Seasons
Narrative: "The Myth of the Cave"
Narrative: The Truman Show
Narrative: The Store of the Worlds
Chapter 9: Aristotle's Virtue Theory: Everything in Moderation
Empirical Knowledge and the Realm of the Senses
Aristotle the Scientist
Aristotle's Virtue Theory: Teleology and the Golden Mean
Aristotle's Influence on Aquinas
Some Objections to Greek Virtue Theory
Primary Reading: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book II
Primary Reading: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book III
Narrative: "The Flight of Icarus"
Narrative: Njal's Saga
Narrative: Lord Jim
Narrative: "A Piece of Advice"
Chapter 10: Contemporary Perspectives
Ethics and the Morality of Virtue as Political Concepts
Have Virtue, and Then Go Ahead: Mayo, Foot, and Sommers
The Quest for Authenticity: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, and Levinas
Primary Reading: Søren Kierkegaard, Johannes Climacus
Primary Reading: Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or
Primary Reading: Jean-Paul Sartre, "Existentialism Is a Humanism"
Primary Reading: "The Paradox of Morality: An Interview with Emmanuel Levinas"
Primary Reading: Dwight Furrow, A Culture
Narrative: Groundhog Day
Narrative: No Exit
Narrative: Good Will Hunting
Narrative: The Searchers
Chapter 11: Case Studies in Virtue
Courage of the Physical and Moral Kind
Compassion: From Hume to Huck Finn
Gratitude: Asian Tradition and Western Modernity
Virtue and Conduct: The Option of Soft Universalism
Diversity, Politics, and Common Ground?
Primary Reading: John McCain, Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life
Primary Reading: Philip Hallie, Tales of Good and Evil, Help and Harm
Primary Reading: Jesse Prinz, Is Empathy Necessary for Morality?
Primary Reading: Lin Yutang, "On Growing Old Gracefully"
Narrative: Courage: Band of Brothers, Third Episode, "Carentan"
Narrative: Courage: True Grit
Narrative: Compassion: "The Parable of the Good Samaritan"
Narrative: Compassion: Schindler's List
Narrative: Gratitude: Eat Drink Man Woman
Narrative: Gratitude: Pay It Forward
Chapter 12: Different Gender, Different Ethics?
Feminism and Virtue Theory
What Is Gender Equality?
Women's Historical Role in the Public Sphere
The Rise of Modern Feminism
Classical, Difference, and Radical Feminism
Primary Reading: Harriet Taylor Mill, "Enfranchisement of Women"
Primary Reading: Simone De Beauvoir, The Second Sex
Primary Reading: Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice
Narrative: A Doll's House
Narrative: Maids of Misfortune
Narrative: "The Woman Destroyed"
Narrative: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Chapter 13: Applied Ethics: A Sampler
The Question of Abortion and Personhood
Euthanasia as a Right to Choose?
Media Ethics and Media Bias
Business Ethics: The Rules of the Game
Just War Theory
Animal Welfare and Animal Rights
Ethics of the Environment: Think Globally, Act Locally
The Death Penalty
The Ethics of Self-Improvement: Narrative Identity
A Final Word
Primary Reading: Andrew Belsey and Ruth Chadwick, "Ethics as a Vehicle for Media Quality"
Primary Reading: Amber Levanon Seligson and Laurie Choi, "Critical Elements of an Organizational Ethical Culture"
Primary Reading: Scott Gottlieb, "How Safe Is Our Food? FDA Could Do Better"
Primary Reading: John Rawls, The Law of Peoples
Primary Reading: Great Ape Project, "The Declaration on Great Apes"
Primary Reading: Lee Hall and Anthony Jon Waters, "From Property to Person: The Case of Evelyn Hart"
Primary Reading: "Ethics and the Environment"
Primary Reading: Severin Carrell, “Al Gore: Clear Proof That Climate Change Causes Extreme Weather”
Primary Reading: Myles Allen, “Al Gore is Doing a Disservice to Science by Overplaying the Link Between Climate Change and Weather”
Primary Reading: Tom Sorell, "Two Ideals and the Death Penalty"
Primary Reading: Mark Fuhrman, Death and Justice: An Exposé of Oklahoma's Death Row Machine
Narrative: Media Ethics/Business Ethics: State of Play
Narrative: Business Ethics: The Insider
Narrative: Business Ethics/Environmental Ethics: Cold Wind
Narrative: "The Jigsaw Man"
Narrative: The Life of David Gale
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