Q&A: What are some good books on practical ethics?

Question by Conrad: What are some good books on practical ethics?
I’m trying to teach my kids to live good, ethical lives, but they each believe in different religious and non-religious traditions (we adopted them from a number of different countries).

I’m looking for a book that gives some good, solid arguments for why someone should live a good, ethical life.

Because of their diversity of beliefs, none of the usual arguments work (e.g., “virtue is its own reward”, or “do good because it feels good” or the popular religious argument, “be good or have a bad afterlife”).

They just practice ‘selective ethics’, where they’re good when it’s in their own best interests, and their bad when they feel like the benefits outweigh the costs.

So I’d really like to find a book that gives some good, logical arguments for having ethics. I want my kids to be good all the time, not just when it is to their advantage. Thanks for any help you can give

Best answer:

Answer by dude
Practical Ethics by Peter Singer, very good book.

Just so you know, their behavior is partly governed by genetics and partly by environment, so dont think that reading books will make them want to be ethical. There are PLENTY of people who surround themselves with ethical people and the lifestyle and still take meth while having sex with prostitutes. Not that that hurts anyone else, but there you are.

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One thought on “Q&A: What are some good books on practical ethics?”

  1. The New York Times magazine (free on line) has a weekly column “The Ethicist.” The author answers problems that people send to him.

    The column is short, often light in nature and usually pretty clear. I suspect most people would find reading the column regularly a lot easier then reading any book, esp. because it uses real world problems.

    Old columns can be read from the the NYT archives on line also.

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