100 books like Ethics Without Principles

By Jonathan Dancy,

Here are 100 books that Ethics Without Principles fans have personally recommended if you like Ethics Without Principles. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Moral Problem

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From my list on reasons in ethics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Schroeder is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles in philosophy, many of them concerned with the role of reasons in metaethics and moral explanations. Three of his articles have been honored by the Philosophers’ Annual as among the ten best philosophy articles published in their year, and one received the APA article prize as the best paper published in all of philosophy in 2008 or 2009. His former Ph.D. students now teach philosophy on five continents.

Mark's book list on reasons in ethics

Mark Schroeder Why did Mark love this book?

There are a lot of great books about metaethics and a lot of great books about reasons, but this book nabs my top recommendation because Smith makes the topics so deceptively easy to get into and start thinking about. This is the book that I wrote my undergraduate senior thesis on that got me into studying and writing about philosophy for a living, and it is also one of the key books that everyone in my generation in my field grew up thinking about and reacting to. It also has a great balance between an overarching project that spans all of the chapters and some pretty self-contained discussions, especially in the earlier chapters, that helps the reader to focus on one question at a time while also getting a glimpse of how philosophical questions can add up to something bigger.

By Michael Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Moral Problem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This acclaimed volume offers a systematic introduction to and striking analysis of the central issues animating current debate in moral philosophy. It will be of interest to anyone with a serious interest in the philosophical foundations of ethics. Topics discussed in this book include: realist vs anti-realist accounts of moral truth; cognitivist vs expressivist accounts of moral judgement; internalist vs externalist accounts of the relation between moral judgement and the will; Humean vs anti-Humean theories of motivation; and the debate between those who think that morality is a system of hypothetical imperatives and those who think that moral requirements are…


Book cover of The Sources of Normativity

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From my list on reasons in ethics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Schroeder is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles in philosophy, many of them concerned with the role of reasons in metaethics and moral explanations. Three of his articles have been honored by the Philosophers’ Annual as among the ten best philosophy articles published in their year, and one received the APA article prize as the best paper published in all of philosophy in 2008 or 2009. His former Ph.D. students now teach philosophy on five continents.

Mark's book list on reasons in ethics

Mark Schroeder Why did Mark love this book?

In this book, Korsgaard makes really forceful the question of what it is that gives morality any authority over us. She divides and surveys the space of possible answers to this question, and develops an incredibly ambitious answer that draws extensively on her interpretation of the historical philosopher Immanuel Kant and makes Kant’s own views intelligible in contemporary terms. It nabs my second recommendation not only because it is gripping and relatively easy to get into, but because, like my top recommendation, of the formative role that it has played for so many contemporary philosophers of my generation, for whom it set the standard of what questions needed to be asked and answered, and what the space of tools might be for trying to answer them.

By Christine M. Korsgaard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sources of Normativity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ethical concepts are, or purport to be, normative. They make claims on us: they command, oblige, recommend, or guide. Or at least when we invoke them, we make claims on one another; but where does their authority over us - or ours over one another - come from? Christine Korsgaard identifies four accounts of the source of normativity that have been advocated by modern moral philosophers: voluntarism, realism, reflective endorsement, and the appeal to autonomy. She traces their history, showing how each developed in response to the prior one and comparing their early versions with those on the contemporary philosophical…


Book cover of Reasons as Defaults

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From my list on reasons in ethics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Schroeder is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles in philosophy, many of them concerned with the role of reasons in metaethics and moral explanations. Three of his articles have been honored by the Philosophers’ Annual as among the ten best philosophy articles published in their year, and one received the APA article prize as the best paper published in all of philosophy in 2008 or 2009. His former Ph.D. students now teach philosophy on five continents.

Mark's book list on reasons in ethics

Mark Schroeder Why did Mark love this book?

In this book, Horty uses tools that were originally developed in the fields of artificial intelligence and non-monotonic logic in order to develop an explanatory theory of how reasons compete with one another. The main thing that has led contemporary moral philosophers to be so interested in reasons is that they seem to be able to compete. For example, if on the one hand, you promised your friend to keep a secret, that is a reason that counts against telling anyone else, but if the secret is that they are having an affair with the spouse of another of your friends, that is a reason that counts in favor of telling, and to figure out what you should do, it seems like we have to weigh these reasons together to see which one is more important. But very few ethicists have gotten very far in thinking about the distinctive challenges…

By John F. Horty,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reasons as Defaults as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although the study of reasons plays an important role in both epistemology and moral philosophy, little attention has been devoted to the question of how, exactly, reasons interact to support the actions or conclusions they do. In this book, John F. Horty attempts to answer this question by providing a precise, concrete account of reasons and their interaction, based on the logic of default reasoning. The book begins with an intuitive, accessible introduction to
default logic itself, and then argues that this logic can be adapted to serve as a foundation for a concrete theory of reasons. Horty then shows…


Book cover of What We Owe to Each Other

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From my list on reasons in ethics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Schroeder is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles in philosophy, many of them concerned with the role of reasons in metaethics and moral explanations. Three of his articles have been honored by the Philosophers’ Annual as among the ten best philosophy articles published in their year, and one received the APA article prize as the best paper published in all of philosophy in 2008 or 2009. His former Ph.D. students now teach philosophy on five continents.

Mark's book list on reasons in ethics

Mark Schroeder Why did Mark love this book?

Featured prominently in the plot of the NBC comedy The Good Place, Scanlon’s 1998 book covers much more than reasons and metaethics – it offers an ambitious explanatory theory of where our moral obligations to one another come from, and why they have the particular shape that they do – including of why we can’t justify doing terrible things to someone just because it benefits many other people. But in the first two chapters of the book, Scanlon also offers a large range of important and influential arguments about the nature of reasons and their relationship to both desire and value, and those two chapters in their own right merit this book a place on this list, in addition to its many other virtues.

By T.M. Scanlon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What We Owe to Each Other as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do we judge whether an action is morally right or wrong? If an action is wrong, what reason does that give us not to do it? Why should we give such reasons priority over our other concerns and values? In this book, T. M. Scanlon offers new answers to these questions, as they apply to the central part of morality that concerns what we owe to each other. According to his contractualist view, thinking about right and wrong is thinking about what we do in terms that could be justified to others and that they could not reasonably reject.…


Book cover of Minimal Morality: A Multilevel Social Contract Theory

Vangelis Chiotis Author Of The Morality of Economic Behaviour: Economics as Ethics

From my list on economic morality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Two self-interested people will try to outperform each other. One will win, the other will lose. If they instead cooperate, both will win a bit, and lose a bit. Is this preferable? I say yes, because in the long term, winning a bit many times, is better than winning a lot, once. Choosing short-term gain at the expense of long-term benefit is a waste of potential for societies and individuals. Traditional morality works, sometimes, in some cases. Rational morality can fill the gaps, and expand the circle of morality so that when higher ideals fail or become too difficult to follow, rationality can be about more than just short-term self-interest.

Vangelis' book list on economic morality

Vangelis Chiotis Why did Vangelis love this book?

Minimal Morality offers an account of moral pluralism to fit modern pluralistic societies that have competing and diverse values and norms.

As opposed to the other books in the list, the moral theory here starts with assumptions about the moral character of agents; “no moral in, no moral out” (p. 7).

However, the books is relevant to the discussion about the links between rational and moral behavior because it discusses different ways to be moral and offers a way to address moral disagreement, which can shed light on the discussion about how to reconcile rationality with morality.

By Michael Moehler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Minimal Morality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michael Moehler develops a novel multilevel social contract theory. In contrast to existing theories in the liberal tradition, it does not merely assume a restricted form of reasonable moral pluralism, but is tailored to the conditions of deeply morally pluralistic societies which may be populated by liberal moral agents, nonliberal moral agents, and, according to the traditional understanding of morality, nonmoral agents alike. Moehler draws on the history of the
social contract tradition, especially the work of Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Rawls, and Gauthier, as well as on the work of some of the critics of this tradition, such as Sen…


Book cover of The Biology of Moral Systems

Dennis L. Krebs Author Of Survival of the Virtuous: How We Became a Moral Animal

From my list on how we became a moral animal.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was younger, I got into a lot of trouble. Many good-hearted people helped me. In part, this inspired me to become a clinical psychologist. When I was in graduate school at Harvard, I became disillusioned with clinical psychology and inspired to figure out why people are motivated to help others. During this process, a lecturer from the Biology Department, Robert Trivers, approached me and we exchanged drafts of papers we were writing. Trivers’ ideas caused me to see altruism and morality in an entirely different, and much more valid, way. In Survival of the Virtuous I demonstrate how psychological findings on altruism and morality can be gainfully interpreted from an evolutionary perspective.  

Dennis' book list on how we became a moral animal

Dennis L. Krebs Why did Dennis love this book?

My introduction to Richard Alexander was a set of compelling words that he wrote in the margin of a draft of one of my early papers on the evolution of altruism: “no, no, no, no.” I had gotten it wrong. 

In The Biology of Moral Systems, Richard Alexander presents an account of how morality evolved in the human species that has proven almost exactly right. The key to understanding morality, he argues, is to view it as a system that evolved to enable individuals who can benefit from cooperating with one another to resolve their conflicts of interest in mutually beneficial ways. 

Alexander explains how the moral systems that have evolved in human societies are structured in ways that enable people to reap the benefits of increasingly indirect systems of reciprocity.  

By Richard Alexander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Biology of Moral Systems as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Despite wide acceptance that the attributes of living creatures have appeared through a cumulative evolutionary process guided chiefly by natural selection, many human activities have seemed analytically inaccessible through such an approach. Prominent evolutionary biologists, for example, have described morality as contrary to the direction of biological evolution, and moral philosophers rarely regard evolution as relevant to their discussions.The Biology of Moral Systems adopts the position that moral questions arise out of conflicts of interest, and that moral systems are ways of using confluences of interest at lower levels of social organization to deal with conflicts of interest at higher…


Book cover of The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty

William MacAskill Author Of What We Owe the Future

From my list on doing good.

Why am I passionate about this?

William MacAskill is an associate professor in philosophy at the University of Oxford. At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest associate professor of philosophy in the world. He cofounded the nonprofits Giving What We Can, the Centre for Effective Altruism, and Y Combinator–backed 80,000 Hours, which together have moved over $300 million to effective charities. He is the author of Doing Good Better and What We Owe The Future.

William's book list on doing good

William MacAskill Why did William love this book?

In The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer makes the case that we can do a tremendous amount of good by donating to high-impact charities. Every year, hundreds of thousands of children die from preventable diseases, and at little cost to ourselves, we can make an enormous positive difference by giving to organizations like the Against Malaria Foundation. 

By Peter Singer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Life You Can Save as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the first time in history, eradicating world poverty is within our reach. Yet around the world, a billion people struggle to live each day on less than many of us pay for bottled water.

In The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer uses ethical arguments, illuminating examples, and case studies of charitable giving to show that our current response to world poverty is not only insufficient but morally indefensible. The Life You Can Save teaches us to be a part of the solution, helping others as we help ourselves.

'A persuasive and inspiring work that will change the way…


Book cover of Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Author Of Dutch Light

From my list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my writing about science, I am always keen to include the artistic and literary dimension that links the science to the broader culture. In Huygens, a product of the Dutch Golden Age, I found a biographical subject for whom it would have been quite impossible not to embrace these riches. This context – including painting, music, poetry, mechanics, architecture, gardens, fashion and leisure – is crucial to understanding the life that Huygens led and the breakthroughs he was able to make.

Hugh's book list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Why did Hugh love this book?

Baruch Spinoza was the philosophical flower of the Dutch Golden Age. Bertrand Russell called him the "noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers", and I am certainly not going to disagree. Like many of the innovators of the Golden Age, his ideas still seem fresh. Expelled from his Jewish community in Amsterdam for his ‘heresies’, we now find his conception of God as nature highly congenial. We probably share his dislike of ritual and perhaps aspire to his renunciation of materialism. His advice neither to fear nor to hope when it concerns things we can do nothing about is as good now as it was when it appeared in his most famous work, Ethics, in 1677.

Spinoza’s philosophy is hard to approach in the original – his arguments are rigorously constructed in the style of ancient Greek mathematics proofs. But Steven Nadler, as well as producing a towering biography…

By Steven Nadler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Think Least of Death as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Pulitzer Prize-finalist Steven Nadler, an engaging guide to what Spinoza can teach us about life's big questions

In 1656, after being excommunicated from Amsterdam's Portuguese-Jewish community for "abominable heresies" and "monstrous deeds," the young Baruch Spinoza abandoned his family's import business to dedicate his life to philosophy. He quickly became notorious across Europe for his views on God, the Bible, and miracles, as well as for his uncompromising defense of free thought. Yet the radicalism of Spinoza's views has long obscured that his primary reason for turning to philosophy was to answer one of humanity's most urgent questions: How…


Book cover of Spinoza on Reason, Passions, and the Supreme Good

Steven Nadler Author Of Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die

From my list on Spinoza.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have immersed myself in the study of seventeenth-century philosophy for almost forty years. Over that time, I have become particularly devoted to Spinoza. This is because, first, I think he got it all pretty much right; his views on religion, on human nature, and especially on what it is to lead a good life have always struck me as correct and relevant. You can be a Spinozist today, three and a half centuries after his death, and it would make perfect sense. Second, Spinoza is endlessly fascinating. I find that every time I read him⎯and I’ve been reading and re-reading him for a long time now⎯it gets more difficult. Just when you think you know him, there are always new questions that arise and new puzzles to solve.

Steven's book list on Spinoza

Steven Nadler Why did Steven love this book?

This is another important contribution to our understanding of Spinoza as a moral philosopher. It is a denser read than the first three books, but fascinating nonetheless for those already with a little Spinoza under their belt. Rather than concentrating on just the latter parts of the Ethics, where most scholars interested in Spinoza’s moral philosophy focus and where we find the mature discussion of the “free person” who lives under the “guidance of reason”, Sangiacomo is especially concerned with the evolution of Spinoza’s moral thought from his earliest writings to his final, uncompleted work. He considers tensions within, and pressures upon, Spinoza’s understanding of the “Supreme Good” and how to achieve it, and the changes that that account consequently undergoes. Sangiacomo’s thesis is thus both historical and philosophical.

By Andrea Sangiacomo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spinoza on Reason, Passions, and the Supreme Good as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Spinoza's thought is at the centre of an ever growing interest. Spinoza's moral philosophy, in particular, points to a radical way of understanding how human beings can become free and enjoy supreme happiness. And yet, there is still much disagreement about how exactly Spinoza's recipe is supposed to work. For long time, Spinoza has been presented as an arch rationalist who would identify in the purely intellectual cultivation of reason the key for ethical progress.
Andrea Sangiacomo offers a new understanding of Spinoza's project, by showing how he himself struggled during his career to develop a moral philosophy that could…


Book cover of What's Fair: Ethics for Negotiators

Kate Vitasek Author Of Contracting in the New Economy: Using Relational Contracts to Boost Trust and Collaboration in Strategic Business Relationships

From my list on developing strategic business contracts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an international authority for my award-winning research on the Vested® business model for highly collaborative relationships. I began my research in 2003 by studying what makes the difference in successful strategic business deals. My day job is the lead faculty and researcher for the University of Tennessee’s Certified Deal Architect program; my passion is helping organizations and individuals learn the art, science, and practice of crafting highly collaborative win-win strategic business relationships. My work has led to seven books and three Harvard Business Review articles and I’ve shared my advice on CNN International, Bloomberg, NPR, and Fox Business News.

Kate's book list on developing strategic business contracts

Kate Vitasek Why did Kate love this book?

This book puts the concept of ethics in negotiations front and center. It is a must-read because ethics in negotiation are essential not only for getting to the contract – but how you will address the business decisions long after the parties come to a formal contract. For me, an ethical framework is a crucial foundation for any business and for contracting. In fact, they are so essential our research at the University of Tennessee advocates contracting parties create a Statement of Intent that formally embeds a commitment to six guiding principles that combined, help contracting parties make more ethical decisions. If you ever wondered what is fair in negotiations, pick up this book; or if you scratched your head when you thought something was not fair, pick up this book. Either way, the insights will help you develop better contracts. 

By Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow (editor), Michael Wheeler (editor),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked What's Fair as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What's Fair is a landmark collection that focuses exclusively on the crucial topic of ethics in negotiation. Edited by Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow and Michael Wheeler, What's Fair contains contributions from some of the best-known practitioners and scholars in the field including Roger Fisher, Howard Raiffa, and Deborah Kolb. The editors and distinguished contributors offer an examination of why ethics matter individually and socially, and explain the essential duties and values of negotiation beyond formal legal requirements. Throughout the book, these experts tackle difficult questions such as: * What do we owe our counterparts (if anything) in the way of candor…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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