Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics by Simon Blackburn

It is rather short, and not as satisfying as Blackburn’s Truth. The book is divided into three parts. The first deals with seven threats to ethics, such as the Death of God, Relativism and Determinism. The second deals with some ethical ideas, such as Utilitarianism and Rights. And the third discusses possible foundations for ethics, like those offered by Kant and Rawls.

Blackburn is skeptical about providing a rational foundation for ethics, somehow “built into the order of things”, but argues that it is good enough that, as social beings, we can share an ethical framework based on sympathy for each other. This framework allows us to reason about ethics, but only within that framework.  (3/19/10)