Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (Oxford Paperbacks) Reissue Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0192861290
ISBN-10: 0192861298
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Editorial Reviews


"Remarkably clear, straightforward, and brief....Provocative."--Kirkus Reviews

"Rachel's book covers an extraordinarily diverse array of scientific, historical and philosophical topics (beginning with a 55-page synopsis of Darwin's life and thought) with admirable brevity, simplicity, fairness and clarity. It deserves to be read and pondered on by anyone with a serious interest in evolutionary thought or the treatment of animals."--American Scientist

"A lucid and lively account." --Journal of Metaphysics

"Ambitious, provocative, challenging, erudite....Commands attention." --Medical Humanities Review

"Clearly written and engaging."--Ethics

About the Author

About the Author:
James Rachels is University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is the author of The End of Life and The Elements of Moral Philosophy.

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; Reissue edition (October 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192861298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192861290
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.7 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #512,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Rachels, the distinguished American moral philosopher, was born in Columbus, Georgia, graduating from Mercer University in Macon in 1962. He received his Ph.D. in 1967. In 1975, Rachels wrote 'Active and Passive Euthanasia,' arguing that the distinction so important in the law between killing and letting die has no rational basis. Originally appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, this essay has been reprinted roughly 300 times and is a staple of undergraduate education. The End of Life (1986) was about the morality of killing and the value of life. Created from Animals (1990) argued that a Darwinian world-view has widespread philosophical implications, including drastic implications for our treatment of nonhuman animals. Can Ethics Provide Answers? (1997) was Rachels' first collection of papers (others are expected posthumously). Rachels' McGraw-Hill textbook, The Elements of Moral Philosophy, is now in its fourth edition and is easily the best-selling book of its kind.

Over his career, Rachels wrote 5 books and 85 essays, edited 7 books and gave about 275 professional lectures. His work has been translated into Dutch, Italian, Japanese, and Serbo-Croatian. James Rachels is widely admired as a stylist, as his prose is remarkably free of jargon and clutter. A major theme in his work is that reason can resolve difficult moral issues. He has given reasons for moral vegetarianism and animal rights, for affirmative action (including quotas), for the humanitarian use of euthanasia, and for the idea that parents owe as much moral consideration to other people's children as they do to their own.

James Rachels died of cancer on September 5th, 2003, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Daw-Nay Evans, Jr. on April 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Rachels spends a good deal of time setting the intellectual and historical context in which Darwin's theory appears. He slowly but surely initiates the reader into the labyrinth of evolutionary theory with all the interesting characters such as Huxley and Wallace. The book is quite good, and lays out the argument of why one should look at non-human animals as of a different degree rather than of a different kind to human beings. He with Darwin's help answers the skeptics, religious dogmatists, and others on their own ground. The only problem with this book comes close to the end as Rachels presents his theory of moral individualism giving the reader a formula by which they can operate to treat animals with more respect. However, he does not explicate his theory thoroughly enough leaving it open to an enormous amount of criticism. The book can stand alone without the addition of such a theory. It is an excellent read for anyone pondering the questions of evolution, morality, and if we should change the way we view animals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John W. Loftus VINE VOICE on December 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
The late moral philosopher James Rachels wrote a textbook on moral philosophy I used in preparation for my Introduction to Ethics classes called Elements of Moral Philosophy. I highly recommend it. He writes extremely well and makes the scholarly arguments accessible to the educated reader--something I aim to do as well. Rachels' book, Created From Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism, is also extremely well written and accessible to the educated reader. It's wonderful!

It was published in 1990 but is still an important work.

In many ways moral philosophers have ignored science. To the degree they do I'm unimpressed. Rachels does it right though, and in doing so he provides a model that moral philosophers should follow.

Chapter one might be considered by some readers to be sort of irrelevant to his argument in the rest of the book because he discusses Darwin's life, how he discovered the principle of natural selection and the ensuing reactions and debates that followed. I found Rachels to be well-informed about these events. He related them very well and the chapter is very informative. For people unacquainted with Darwinism this chapter is essential since it forms the basis for how he will argue later. After all, he wants to begin by showing Darwinism is the case. To the specialist this chapter can probably be skipped.

In chapter five, that which he builds up to in the book, he wrestles with the implications of Darwinism for morality with specific reference to the treatment of animals in distinction from human beings.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book after having read several books by or about Charles Darwin and his work. Most of the other works, except Darwin's own The Descent of Man, failed to consider the ethical significance of Darwin's finding that the difference between our species and that of non-human animals is one of degree and not of kind.
I hoped to get another perspective on Darwin, a gentle and fascinating man, but not a great deal more. The author's mission--to derive the moral meaning of natural selection--was quite ambitious. No one had been able to accomplish much in that regard in the century and a half since The Origin was published. And I was concerned that the author was a philosophy professor. Over the years, I have found it very difficult to make any sense of things written by philosophers, especially those who had worked most of their lives in academic settings.
So I was greatly surprised to find this book to be a lucid and thoughtful discussion that progressed in an orderly way from a discussion of Darwin's life and findings to the ethical implications of those findings and an analysis of how "exceptional" humans are compared to non-human animals and finally to down-to-earth examples of what all this means for our treatment of animals.
This book would be a good read for anyone who is just interested in Darwin and his work. For anyone who is interested in more profound issues about what natural selection means for our everyday treatment of animals and our proper place on this planet, it is an invaluable contribution.
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16 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Hiram Caton on November 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a deeply confused book. The author's intention is to assemble an animal liberation friendly moral philosophy using Darwinian evolution as a platform and Darwin's interpretation of moral sentiment as a guide to drawing out implications not actually present in the Great Man's writings. His is a commendable effort from which much may be learned, but alas he's on Mission Impossible: an evolution platform, whose core teaching is survival of the fittest in the midst of extinction carnage, replaces morality by the brutal doctrine that might makes right.

Rachels is aware of this liability. He correctly observes that moral philosophers have largely by-passed Darwinism, or, when they did take note, contrived philosophical arguments to dismiss it (the classic case being G E Moore's proclamation of the `naturalistic fallacy'). This they do because the struggle for existence slaughterhouse, which devalues our species' privileged position by reducing it to animal existence of no intrinsic value, dissipates the sense of the sacred. Rachels accepts that Darwinism indeed cancels the sense of human life's sanctity (called `speciesism'), but would use it positively as an opening to morally valuing all animal life according to its merits. (This is the signature animal lib teaching that human life, in some conditions, is of less value, or of no value, than animal life in contrasting conditions). But what value other than valorization of armed survival can be salvaged? Rachels would extricate himself from this predicament by fancy footwork that offloads social Darwinism to the hapless Herbert Spencer while leaving Darwin untouched (pp. 63f) Alas, the feint will work only you don't know Darwin's colorful social Darwinist pronouncements.
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Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (Oxford Paperbacks)
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