100 books like Practical Ethics

By Peter Singer,

Here are 100 books that Practical Ethics fans have personally recommended if you like Practical Ethics. 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 Language, Truth and Logic

David Edmonds Author Of Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

From my list on read before you turn 25.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Edmonds is a philosopher, podcaster, and curry fanatic. A distinguished research fellow at Oxford’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, he is the author of many books including Wittgenstein’s Poker (with John Eidinow), The Murder of Professor Schlick, Would You Kill The Fat Man?, and Undercover Robot (with Bertie Fraser). If you eat at his local restaurant, The Curry Paradise, he recommends you order the Edmonds Biriani.

David's book list on read before you turn 25

David Edmonds Why did David love this book?

This is a widely-scorned book whose ideas are no longer in philosophical fashion. But it was the work that first hooked me into philosophy, and I recommend it for its sheer verve and confidence. Freddie Ayer visited Vienna in the 1930s and when he returned to the UK he introduced the ideas of the Vienna Circle into the Anglo-American world. The book argued that propositions that were not testable – for example some assertions about God, or about ethics or aesthetics – were meaningless because they were not verifiable. Amazing claims!

By Alfred Jules Ayer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Language, Truth and Logic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A delightful book … I should like to have written it myself." — Bertrand Russell
First published in 1936, this first full-length presentation in English of the Logical Positivism of Carnap, Neurath, and others has gone through many printings to become a classic of thought and communication. It not only surveys one of the most important areas of modern thought; it also shows the confusion that arises from imperfect understanding of the uses of language. A first-rate antidote for fuzzy thought and muddled writing, this remarkable book has helped philosophers, writers, speakers, teachers, students, and general readers alike.
Mr. Ayers…


Book cover of Philosophical Investigations

David Edmonds Author Of Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

From my list on read before you turn 25.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Edmonds is a philosopher, podcaster, and curry fanatic. A distinguished research fellow at Oxford’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, he is the author of many books including Wittgenstein’s Poker (with John Eidinow), The Murder of Professor Schlick, Would You Kill The Fat Man?, and Undercover Robot (with Bertie Fraser). If you eat at his local restaurant, The Curry Paradise, he recommends you order the Edmonds Biriani.

David's book list on read before you turn 25

David Edmonds Why did David love this book?

Surely the greatest work of philosophy of the 20th Century. It delves into a wide range of philosophical issues, including the relationship between language and the world. OK, it’s tough to understand without also reading some accompanying secondary literature – but it is endlessly beguiling. It’s one of the few works of philosophy that repays being re-read. I took a Wittgenstein paper at university - and have called myself a Wittgensteinian ever since.

By Ludwig Wittgenstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Incorporating significant editorial changes from earlier editions, the fourth edition of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is the definitive en face German-English version of the most important work of 20th-century philosophy The extensively revised English translation incorporates many hundreds of changes to Anscombe's original translation Footnoted remarks in the earlier editions have now been relocated in the text What was previously referred to as 'Part 2' is now republished as Philosophy of Psychology - A Fragment , and all the remarks in it are numbered for ease of reference New detailed editorial endnotes explain decisions of translators and identify references and…


Book cover of Reasons and Persons

David Edmonds Author Of Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

From my list on read before you turn 25.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Edmonds is a philosopher, podcaster, and curry fanatic. A distinguished research fellow at Oxford’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, he is the author of many books including Wittgenstein’s Poker (with John Eidinow), The Murder of Professor Schlick, Would You Kill The Fat Man?, and Undercover Robot (with Bertie Fraser). If you eat at his local restaurant, The Curry Paradise, he recommends you order the Edmonds Biriani.

David's book list on read before you turn 25

David Edmonds Why did David love this book?

Arguably the greatest work of moral philosophy of the 20th Century.  It’s rich with vivid thought experiments – including Parfit’s famous tele-transporter, which can make an exact copy of us and transport us to another planet. Is this copy of me the same person as me? The book makes us question some of our deepest assumptions - such as what it means to say that David Edmonds today is identical to David Edmonds yesterday or tomorrow. Parfit was my first supervisor, and I’m now writing his biography.

By Derek Parfit,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book challenges, with several powerful arguments, some of our deepest beliefs about rationality, morality, and personal identity. The author claims that we have a false view of our own nature; that it is often rational to act against our own best interests; that most of us have moral views that are directly self-defeating; and that, when we consider future generations the conclusions will often be disturbing. He concludes that moral non-religious moral
philosophy is a young subject, with a promising but unpredictable future.


Book cover of The View from Nowhere

David Edmonds Author Of Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

From my list on read before you turn 25.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Edmonds is a philosopher, podcaster, and curry fanatic. A distinguished research fellow at Oxford’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, he is the author of many books including Wittgenstein’s Poker (with John Eidinow), The Murder of Professor Schlick, Would You Kill The Fat Man?, and Undercover Robot (with Bertie Fraser). If you eat at his local restaurant, The Curry Paradise, he recommends you order the Edmonds Biriani.

David's book list on read before you turn 25

David Edmonds Why did David love this book?

Perhaps my favourite philosophy book of all time. Humans have the unique ability to take a detached view of our lives and actions. Call this an objective perspective. Thomas Nagel argues that many of our philosophical problems – such as the attempt to understand free will, or consciousness – stem from a clash between the subjective and objective standpoints. For example, we believe (subjectively), that we are free, that we have free will, that we can raise our right arm, or choose whether or not to go to shopping. But from an objective perspective we might reflect that, like everything else in the universe, we are governed by causal laws. A beautiful writer, Nagel can make the most complex issues seem simple.  He will make you feel cleverer than you are! The View From Nowhere is my model for how philosophy books should be written.

By Thomas Nagel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Much philosophical debate has attempted to reconcile the human capacity to view the world both objectively and subjectively. Thomas Nagel's ambitious and lively book tackles this fundamental issue, arguing that our divided nature is the root of a whole range of philosophical problems, touching, as it does, every aspect of human life. He deals with its manifestations in such fields of philosophy as the mind-body problem, personal identity, knowledge and scepticism,
thought and reality, free will, and ethics.
From reviews of the hardback:

`Remarkable ... all of his discussions are clear and insightful, but some reach a level of originality…


Book cover of Getting Our Act Together: A Theory of Collective Moral Obligations

S.M. Amadae Author Of Prisoners of Reason: Game Theory and Neoliberal Political Economy

From my list on to move beyond neoliberalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been studying neoliberal political economy and its future transformations since I wrote Rationalizing Capitalist Democracy. One major insight has been the deep entanglement of neoliberal political-economic practices with de facto power relations. The liberal normative bargaining characterizing Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations yields to coercive bargaining in which threats of harm are the surest and best means to get one’s way. If one seeks to understand how systems will evolve when governed by strategic competition, then orthodox game theory is useful. However, if one seeks to live in a post-scarcity society in which genuine cooperation is possible, then we can enact solidarity, trust-based relationships, and collective moral accountability. 

S.M.'s book list on to move beyond neoliberalism

S.M. Amadae Why did S.M. love this book?

Neoliberal political economy assumes either a strategic rational actor or an irrational actor who needs to be “nudged” to act rationally. This theory endorses a theory of individualist agency which holds that ultimately all agents must compete against each other. This system of thought emphasizes a lack of alternatives and recommends institutions that accept that actors are narrowly self-interested: people evolved to be machines that survive and propagate. Against this view of human agency, alternative theorists construct theories of action in which individuals can reason together, act in concert, and together be morally accountable. Schwenkenbecher effectively builds this alternative perspective affording possibilities of intentional cooperation and collective moral action.

By Anne Schwenkenbecher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Getting Our Act Together as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Together we can often achieve things that are impossible to do on our own. We can prevent something bad from happening, or we can produce something good, even if none of us could do it by ourselves. But when are we morally required to do something of moral importance together with others?

This book develops an original theory of collective moral obligations. These are obligations that individual moral agents hold jointly but not as unified collective agents. The theory does not stipulate a new type of moral obligation but rather suggests that to think of some of our obligations as…


Book cover of Responsibility for Justice

Kieran Setiya Author Of Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way

From my list on finding solidarity in suffering.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I work on ethics and related questions about human agency and human knowledge. My interest in adversity is both personal and philosophical: it comes from my own experience with chronic pain and from a desire to revive the tradition of moral philosophy as a medium of self-help. My last book was Midlife: A Philosophical Guide, and I have also written about baseball and philosophy, stand-up comedy, and the American author H. P. Lovecraft.

Kieran's book list on finding solidarity in suffering

Kieran Setiya Why did Kieran love this book?

Although it is more academic than the others I’ve recommended, this book is both practical and urgent: it asks how we’re responsible for facing up to the structures of injustice in which we are implicated—the legacies of colonialism and slavery, the ongoing catastrophe of climate change. Young’s answer is that responsibility here is not about guilt or shame but the obligation to work for change, an obligation we can only meet through collective action, working with others to transform the systems around us. Young’s argument is rich, provocative, and inspiring.

By Iris Marion Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Responsibility for Justice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the noted political philosopher Iris Marion Young died in 2006, her death was mourned as the passing of "one of the most important political philosophers of the past quarter-century" (Cass Sunstein) and as an important and innovative thinker working at the conjunction of a number of important topics: global justice; democracy and difference; continental political theory; ethics and international affairs; and gender, race and public policy.

In her long-awaited Responsibility for Justice, Young discusses our responsibilities to address "structural" injustices in which we among many are implicated (but for which we not to blame), often by virtue of participating…


Book cover of The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce

Erwin Dekker Author Of The Viennese Students of Civilization: The Meaning and Context of Austrian Economics Reconsidered

From my list on cultural knowledge to understand the economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and economist who is fascinated by the intersection of the economy and culture. This started for me with the idea that economic ideas were shaped by the cultural context in which they emerged, which resulted in my book on the Viennese Students. Over time it has expanded to an interest for the markets for the arts from music to the visual arts, as well as the way in which culture and morality influence economic dynamism. Economics and the humanities are frequently believed to be at odds with each other, but I hope to inspire a meaningful conversation between them.

Erwin's book list on cultural knowledge to understand the economy

Erwin Dekker Why did Erwin love this book?

Economists are arguing to this day what gave rise to the enormous rise in living standards since the 1750s. Deirdre McCloskey argues in this first book of her Bourgeois trilogy that it resulted from a cultural shift in which bourgeois virtues replaced aristocratic ones. The book opened my eyes to the importance of cultural attitudes (dignity and stigma) of various economic and social activities. McCloskey claims that sustained economic growth and innovation were crucially dependent on the dignity of the bourgeois and their commercial activities. McCloskey’s fluent prose which interweaves empirical historical knowledge with literary allusions remains a model to me. 

By Deirdre N Mccloskey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For a century and a half, the artists and intellectuals of Europe have scorned the bourgeoisie. And for a millennium and a half, the philosophers and theologians of Europe have scorned the marketplace. The bourgeois life, capitalism, Mencken's "booboisie" and David Brooks's "bobos" - all have been, and still are, framed as being responsible for everything from financial to moral poverty, world wars, and spiritual desuetude. Countering these centuries of assumptions and unexamined thinking is Deirdre McCloskey's "The Bourgeois Virtues", a magnum opus that offers a radical view: capitalism is good for us. McCloskey's sweeping, charming, and even humorous survey…


Book cover of Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman Author Of The Two Moralities: Conservatives, Liberals, and the Roots of Our Political Divide

From my list on the psychology behind our politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

A university professor for 40 years (now emerita), I focused my most recent research on moral psychology. I am also a political junkie, so perhaps it is no surprise that I have combined these two interests. As both a social psychologist and political psychologist, I have conducted numerous studies on the moral underpinnings of our political ideologies. In addition to two books, I have published over 90 papers, many devoted to morality and/or politics, and I was awarded a generous three-year National Science Foundation grant to study the two moralities that are discussed in my book.   

Ronnie's book list on the psychology behind our politics

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman Why did Ronnie love this book?

This was George Lakoff’s groundbreaking early book linking morality and politics.

Here the renowned cognitive psychologist, draws from his expertise as a linguist to uncover the unconscious worldviews of liberals and conservatives. More specifically, he argues that distinct conceptual metaphors, each associated with the family, underlie the politics of the left and right, specifically the strict father for conservatives and the nurturant parent for liberals.  

By George Lakoff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Moral Politics was first published two decades ago, it redefined how Americans think and talk about politics through the lens of cognitive political psychology. Today, George Lakoff's classic text has become all the more relevant, as liberals and conservatives have come to hold even more vigorously opposed views of the world, with the underlying assumptions of their respective worldviews at the level of basic morality. Even more so than when Lakoff wrote, liberals and conservatives simply have very different, deeply held beliefs about what is right and wrong. Lakoff reveals radically different but remarkably consistent conceptions of morality on…


Book cover of Faces of Hunger: An Essay on Poverty, Justice and Development

Robin Attfield and Barry Wilkins Author Of International Justice and the Third World: Studies in the Philosophy of Development

From my list on development economics and ethics are intertwined.

Why are we passionate about this?

Robin Attfield and Barry Wilkins are retired members of the Philosophy staff of Cardiff University, where they individually and jointly taught undergraduate courses in Philosophy and History of Ideas, and magistral courses in Social Ethics. They also supervised doctoral students in fields including development ethics; former students of theirs hold professorships in places ranging from Los Angeles to Addis Ababa and to Jahangirnagar (Bangladesh). Robin Attfield is currently completing his twentieth published book; several of his books have concerned our international responsibilities. From 1990 they became aware of a serious gap in the philosophical literature with regard to international development, and managed through their joint book to begin plugging it.

Robin's book list on development economics and ethics are intertwined

Robin Attfield and Barry Wilkins Why did Robin love this book?

Robin loves the way that this book displays how even a Kantian basis (not home territory for him) shows why poverty should not be tolerated.

It underlines how extreme poverty undermines the exercise of rational agency, and thus the proper functioning of human beings.

Onora O’Neill argues cogently that morality precludes the employment of force or fraud, and gives rise to universal principles applicable both within and between societies. Population policies, for example, should depend on the informed consent of those affected.

By Onora O'Neill,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Moving Up without Losing Your Way: The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility

Richard E. Boyatzis Author Of Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth

From my list on building leadership skills through models.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professor and scientist, using my Intentional Change Theory (ICT), I have studied sustained desired change of individuals, teams, organizations, communities, and countries since 1967. I have authored more than 200 articles and 9 books on leadership, competencies, emotional intelligence, competency development, coaching, neuroscience, and management education (including the international best-seller, Primal Leadership with Daniel Goleman and Annie McKee and the recent Helping People Change with Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten). I run several Coursera MOOCs, including Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence which has over a million enrolled from 215 countries.

Richard's book list on building leadership skills through models

Richard E. Boyatzis Why did Richard love this book?

Like most countries of the world, the US is built on waves and steady immigration. As one of the few countries where upward mobility is possible, and economic prosperity abounds, we have been a magnet for immigrants wanting a better life for themselves and their children. Professor Morton extends the challenges of marginality, social class, as well as ethnic and racial and gender prejudice to the experience of modern day immigrants. Her stories and research reflect the experience any of us have had as immigrants or children of them. She also explains how the cultural and identity changes needed to go beyond surviving to thriving often involve letting go of previous parts of ourselves and identities.

By Jennifer Morton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moving Up without Losing Your Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ethical and emotional tolls paid by disadvantaged college students seeking upward mobility and what educators can do to help these students flourish

Upward mobility through the path of higher education has been an article of faith for generations of working-class, low-income, and immigrant college students. While we know this path usually entails financial sacrifices and hard work, very little attention has been paid to the deep personal compromises such students have to make as they enter worlds vastly different from their own. Measuring the true cost of higher education for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, Moving Up without Losing Your…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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