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10 Moral Paradoxes

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Table of Contents

List of Figures viii Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 1 Fortunate Misfortune 11 2 The Paradox of Beneficial Retirement 23 3 Two Paradoxes about Justice and the Severity of Punishment 33 4 Blackmail: The Solution 42 5 The Paradox of Non-Punishment 50 6 On Not Being Sorry about the Morally Bad 59 7 Choice-Egalitarianism and the Paradox of the Baseline 67 8 Morality and Moral Worth 77 9 The Paradox of Moral Complaint 90 10 Preferring Not to Have Been Born 100 11 A Meta-Paradox: Are Paradoxes Bad? 113 12 Reflections on Moral Paradox 122 Postscript: The Future and Moral Paradox 134 References 138 Index 142

About the Author

Saul Smilansky is a professor in the department of philosophy at the University of Haifa, Israel. He is the author of the widely acclaimed book, Free Will and Illusion (2000) and has published articles in many of the leading philosophical journals.


"This is an excellent book which I recommend wholeheartedly both as a source of beneficial thought experiments for the professional moral philosopher, and as a better stimulus for the student of moral philosophy than any theory-focused book could possibly be ... It is clearly, elegantly and succinctly written, it is provocative and sometimes perplexing without ever crossing the line into the melodramatic or the precious and, perhaps best of all, it promotes tentative conclusions whilst leaving the reader plenty of space to pursue each of the issues further for herself." (The Analysis Trust, 3 July 2011) "Smilansky's examples are freshly minted... They're thought provoking, and Smilansky's discussion is a pleasure... [I]f we take morality seriously, we need to reflect with open minds about the kinds of cases he describes, and finding views we can live with will constitute some kind of progress in our moral life." (Mark Sainsbury FBA, Times Literary Supplement) "Saul Smilansky's 10 Moral Paradoxes is a delightful book. The paradoxes are easy to appreciate and though it's written in a light and accessible style, it still has plenty of philosophical heft. " (Michael Cholbi, PEA Soup) "His writing is clear and lively. He avoids unnecessary technicalities. His ideas are grounded in vivid examples." (Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, May 2009) "[B]rief, succinct, and a pleasure to read. Some of the chapters (for instance, the chapter on Fortunate Misfortune) would also make excellent reading for seminars on any undergraduate course... It is well worth reading." (Theoria) "Smilansky has written a book in which he argues, in my view persuasively, that much of our thinking within and about morality leads to paradox... [He] delights in the complexity of the moral life and his approach is tailored to uncover rather than to conceal that complexity. Moral thinking can and should be as deep, as exhilarating and as surprising as intelligently reflective life itself... This is an excellent book which I recommend wholeheartedly... I know of no better book to serve as an introduction to moral philosophy." J.A. Burgess, Analysis, June 13, 2011

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