Doing Practical Ethics

"Ian Stoner and Jason Swartwood’s Doing Practical Ethics is an exceptional, skills-based introduction to critical thinking in applied ethics. ... [The book] is a useful addition for any course on normative questions, or, even, informal logic."

Patrick Brissey, Teaching Philosophy 45(3)

Release date: July 15, 2021 (Oxford University Press)

[Publisher] [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble]


Overview: Doing Practical Ethics is a skills-focused textbook suitable for a variety of Ethics courses. Much as Logic textbooks teach argument skills by demonstrating and then giving students exercises to develop their skills, Doing Practical Ethics provides carefully scaffolded demonstrations and practice opportunities for many of the component argument skills required for engaging in practical ethics.

Most chapters of Doing Practical Ethics have 3 components: (1) a clear explanation (with many examples) of a specific skill for analyzing, evaluating, or constructing moral arguments; (2) Demonstration Exercises with sample solutions that students can use to check their comprehension; and (3) additional Practice Exercises (which instructors can assign as homework) that help students further hone their skills. (Some of my published work on wisdom discusses empirical and philosophical evidence for this deliberate practice approach.)

The book can be assigned in skills-focused courses as a standalone text. Pairing it with an anthology will greatly increase your students' ability to engage successfully with the arguments made in assigned readings. The skills covered are relevant to a variety of Ethics courses, from Intro to Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems to Business Ethics, Bioethics, and Environmental Ethics. We've found that using the book not only helps our students build important reasoning skills -- it also makes class more fun by letting us focus on engaging activities that let students practice productively thinking about and discussing contentious issues.

Additional Resources:

  • Sample Chapter + Index

  • Instructor resources: these give specific and detailed guidance about how to integrate the book into different types of Ethics courses.

      • Instructor's manual with sample answers to all the Practice Exercises and detailed sample syllabi and lesson plans illustrating two possible ways to use the book (as a standalone text for a skills-based Bioethics course, and in a Contemporary Moral Problems course paired with the reader College Ethics).

      • Test banks.

  • Webinar: "Teaching Practical Ethics" -- Ian and I briefly explain and illustrate the rationale behind our skills-based approach in the book.

Saint Paul College students: buying the book when it's assigned in my classes helps fund scholarships for Saint Paul College students like you! For any of the (small) royalties I earn from assigning the book in my own classes, I'll make a matching donation to the Scholarship Fund at the Friends of Saint Paul College Foundation.