By Peter Singer
During this quantity, a few of cutting-edge such a lot unique philosophers survey the total box of ethics, from its origins, throughout the nice moral traditions, to theories of ways we should reside, arguments approximately particular moral concerns, and the character of ethics itself. The booklet could be learn immediately via from starting to finish; but the inclusion of a multi-layered index, coupled with a descriptive define of contents and bibliographies of appropriate literature, implies that the amount additionally serves as a piece of reference, either for these coming afresh to the learn of ethics and for readers already conversant in the topic.
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Extra resources for A Companion to Ethics
In many non-literate societies such crystallization amounts to an art-form, the terse products of which have many facets and depths of meaning. The Shona proverb, Murao ndishe, translates literally as ‘the law rules’. One level of its meaning is that none may rule without reck of law and custom; not only must it be followed, it must also be fostered. At a deeper level, custom is the shield of the people against both tyrants and their own self-destructive folly. Customs and laws are made by the people and are the symbolic, as well as organizational embodiment of their unity.
It is true that, if we were dealing with calculating egoists, the mere returning of benefits to those who had formerly given them might be nothing but a prudent bargain. But again, in all existing human moralities this 10 I • T H E O R I G I N OF E T H I C S transaction appears in quite a different light, not just as insurance for the future but as appropriate gratitude owed for kindness shown in the past, and as flowing naturally from the affection that goes with it. There is no reason why this should not be equally true of other social creatures.
The G/wi should not be taken as living examples of early mankind. It is true that all our ancestors lived by hunting and gathering until about ten thousand years ago, and that this means of subsistence has given w ay to the technology of raising, and living off crops and domesticated animals, inventing and using machines to wrest more materials and energy from the environment, which has enabled people to live in very much larger groupings. Because the G/wi did not do these things does not indicate that they stood still for ten thousand years.