This book is a compilation of readings on Ethics. It is supposed to be the companion of the book The Fundamentals of Ethics, an exceptionally good introduction to the study of ethics.
Gilbert Harman, the famous contender against moral realism, Professor in Princeton, lists, in a program, a bunch of texts students should read while attending his course entitled PHI 202/CHV 202: Introduction to Moral Philosophy. Then he goes on to say that almost all of the texts he recommends can be found in Shafer-Landau's The Ethical Life: the book which I am reviewing right now!
TABLE OF CONTENTS (NOT AVAILABLE IN AMAZON'S WEBPAGE):
Unfortunately, the table of contents of this book is not explicit in Amazon's webpage. I give an overview from it below:
This book encompasses a very comprehensive sample of texts on Ethics. It is divided in four parts. The first one concerns the good life, including texts from Epicurus, Stuart Mill, Robert Nozick, etc. The second regards the different types of normative ethics or theories of right conduct. Authors such as Hobbes, Kant, J.J.C. Smart, and others appear here. The third deals with Metaethics and the status of morality, containing classics like Hume, Mackie (Excerpt from Inventing Right and Wrong), Gilbert Harman, etc.
Lastly, comes the fourth and best part, the one that really goes beyond the problems discussed in the counterpart of this book (The Fundamentals of Ethics). Part 4 adds very good texts on specific moral problems, such as Abortion, Euthanasia, Value of Human Life, Killing Animals, World Poverty, Manipulation of Genes and Clones, Terrorism, Admissibility of Torture, Adultery, Homosexuality. Authors include Ronald Dworkin, Peter Singer, James Rachels, Michael Walzer, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Corvino, Bonnie Steinbock, besides others. Part four is, surely, the best one of this book.
It is very important to mention that most texts are very succinct, but never too short. As a matter of fact, they are all very straightforward. They present a problem, point their arguments and evidences and then conclude. This makes this book very useful and practical indeed.
It must also be said that you don't have to read The Fundamentals of Ethics to understand this book. Absolutely not. But they do address mostly the same topics (Part 4 being the plainest exception).
I sincerely hope my review was of some aid. Please don't forget to vote in case this review was helpful to you.