The best books on Digital Ethics, recommended by Carissa Véliz

Philosophers have a lot to add to debates about digital technology and the moral issues raised by its rapid rise, argues Carissa Véliz, a professor at the University of Oxford’s Institute for Ethics in AI. Here she talks us through books for the general reader that introduce some of the challenges of digital ethics, from concerns about privacy and bias to the threat to democracy and the future of humanity.  

The best books on How to Be Good, recommended by Massimo Pigliucci

Many of us aspire to do the right thing when faced with ethical choices, but for ancient philosophers being a good person involved a much broader look at our behaviour and life choices. Here, Massimo Pigliucci, a practising Stoic and philosophy professor at City College of New York, recommends books on being good, from the ancient sages to modern thinkers.

The best books on Philosophy and Prison, recommended by Andy West

By teaching philosophy in prisons, British philosopher Andy West was not only able to engage with core issues of the human condition, but also to come to terms with members of his own family’s experience of being in prison. Here, he talks us through some books that deal with being locked up, from Auschwitz to Vancouver Island, as well as one by a victim of violent crime.

The best books on Ethical Problems, recommended by David Edmonds

Given the choice between allowing five people to die, and killing one person, what would you do? What is the utilitarian argument for vegetarianism? Should we be able to sell our kidneys? The philosopher suggests some answers and picks the best books on ‘ethical problems.’

The best books on World Philosophy, recommended by Bryan Van Norden

The study of philosophy in the Western world is often parochial, and limited to the study of the Anglo-European tradition. It’s time to widen our focus, advises the author and philosopher Bryan Van Norden. Here he selects five foundational texts of philosophical traditions worldwide.

The best books on Effective Altruism, recommended by Will MacAskill

Should you feel responsible for helping the world become better? And if so, how should you use your time, money, and career to have the biggest possible impact? These are the questions addressed by the effective altruism movement. One of its leading figures, Will MacAskill, recommends the best books to answer them.

The best books on War, recommended by Cécile Fabre

If killing is wrong, how can going to war be justified? Is it always wrong to kill civilians? If a Nazi soldier were billeted in your home, should you respond when he greets you? Philosopher Cécile Fabre chooses Five Books that help explore the profound ethical dilemmas of war.

The best books on Aristotle, recommended by Edith Hall

Aristotle, says Edith Hall, is “quite simply the most important intellectual who ever lived.” Here the author and classicist selects five key Aristotle books to further your understanding of the great philosopher’s life and work.

The best books on Moral Character, recommended by Christian B Miller

Why do apparently ‘good’ people sometimes behave deplorably? Christian B Miller, professor of philosophy at Wake Forest University, selects five books that explore the subject of moral character and warns us to be cautious of making inferences about the underlying motives of others – and ourselves.

The best books on Eating Meat, recommended by Louise Gray

What does it mean to be an ethical meat-eater? Author and journalist Louise Gray chooses five books that examine the impact of our omnivorous lifestyle, and explains why she spent a year only eating the animals she had killed herself.

The Best Adam Smith Books, recommended by Dennis Rasmussen

Adam Smith tends to be seen as the founder of capitalism and modern economics, but he was, first and foremost, a moral philosopher. Dennis Rasmussen, author of The Infidel and the Professor—a book about Smith’s friendship with David Hume—selects the best books by and about Adam Smith.

The best books on Eugenics, recommended by Philippa Levine

The term ‘eugenics’ elicits queasiness amongst those who associate it with the Nazis. But Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw and Margaret Sanger were among its many proponents in the interwar period. Why? Philippa Levine, professor of history at the University of Texas, explains.

The best books on Drone Warfare, recommended by Hugh Gusterson

The introduction of drones “makes possible perpetual war without costs”, warns the anthropology professor and security expert Hugh Gusterson. Here he selects the best books that examine their ethical, psychological and political impact upon 21st century warfare.

The best books on Censorship, recommended by Anthony Julius

As both a solicitor advocate and literary scholar, Anthony Julius occupies a privileged place to navigate complex interactions between literature and law. He picks the best books on censorship, including three novels subjected to their own censorship controversies.

Aleksandar Hemon on Man’s Inhumanity to Man

When reading books, we often empathize with a main character and find redemption in our emotional response to their fate. But it’s more important to think, says Bosnian novelist Aleksandar Hemon. Here, he picks the best books on ‘man’s inhumanity to man.’