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The Elements of Moral Philosophy 3rd Pkg Edition

81 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0072425321
ISBN-10: 0072425326
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James Rachels is University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birminghamand is widely respected in the field of moral philosophy. He is also the author of THE END OF LIFE: Euthanasia and Morality and CREATED FROM ANIMALS: The Moral Implications of Darwinism. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 243 pages
  • Publisher: Mcgraw-Hill College; 3rd Pkg edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0072425326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0072425321
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,475,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Robert Lane on March 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
I use this book (in conjunction with _The Right Thing to Do_, edited by Rachels) as a text for an intro-level ethics course that I teach. I can't recommend it highly enough. Rachels is a sharp philosopher, as well as an interesting and lucid writer. In this book he covers all the basics (Divine Command Theory, Cultural Relativism, Subjectivism, Utilitarianism, Kant...), and does a fine job of drawing examples from applied ethics (gay rights, euthanasia, animal rights...) to illustrate the theories he discusses. This is not to suggest that you will find no fault with any of Rachels' arguments. I myself am less than satisfied with his criticisms of emotivism and Kantianism -- but all things considered, this a minor complaint. The book still deserves five stars. If you are teaching ethics at the college level and are looking for an introductory level text, suitable for students with no previous exposure to philosophy, this is the one -- I know of none better.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By LyssaToldMe on February 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Honestly the changes between the 6th and 7th edition must be extremely minor. So far there have been no differences between the books in class. It gets the job done and is still up-to-date and accurate.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By not me VINE VOICE on February 9, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Elements of Moral Philosophy" is a fabulous, non-technical introduction to ethics. The writing is clear and historically informed, the main schools of thought are covered, and Rachels doesn't pretend that he's found all the answers to very difficult questions. I can't think of a better book for a college student who is new to philosophical ethics and wants to get a feel for how philosophers approach these issues.

I was struck by the handful of super-negative Amazon reviews. I suspect they were written by students who were forced to read the book for a class and either expected something else or were put off by Rachels' respectful but negative treatment of religious-based ethics. Ignore them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Boris Yakubchik on October 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
A lucid, beautifully written overview of the theories historically proposed as "the right moral theory". The author gives generous renditions to all the theories he presents, and proceeds to describe their weaknesses with equal clarity.

If there is only one book you want to read about morality, make this it. I have a bachelor's degree equivalent knowledge of philosophy and read numerous introductory books; this is my favorite.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ann on August 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very interesting textbook and well-written. This book kept me engaged for the entire semester. I truly recommend this book for not only philosophy classes but also for your personal pleasure.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
I used this book as text for a college course at The University of Central Oklahoma. I found it an easy-read. The author is very good at taking ethical systems, and looking at them from both sides. I also believe that Mr. Rachels does quite a good job of proving that it is impossible to be completely objective. Overall, it is a great book, and I believe that anyone who is interested in Morals and Ethics will enjoy it.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bucherwurm on March 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
This slim volume is an excellent introduction to ethics. It is geared to the layman, and is an eminently readable exposition of all the main schools of moral thought. Author Rachels presents each ethical theory, and then presents arguments favoring and opposing the concept. He also applies ethical theories to such concrete problems as abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, and civil disobedience. If you like mind challenging ideas than you will enjoy this book. At the least you will find that all is not as it seems in the world of moral behavior.
All of the main schools of thought are discussed including religious theories, cultural relativism, egoism and utilitarianism. It's an engrossing book that may easily change the way you think.
Consider cultural relativism. Is it always wrong to kill? Years ago it was found that nomadic Eskimos often killed newborn infants. A child requires breast nourishment for four years in the cold north, and is carried and sheltered in the mother's parka as the family constantly travels. It is not feasible for a mother to carry, protect, and feed two infants at one time. The entire group would face extinction if too many infants were allowed to grow. Are these Eskimos to be considered immoral?
If you have an open mind, this is a great opportunity to learn that ethical behavior is not as rigidly defined as you may have thought.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you're looking for an easy to read introduction to moral thought, then look no further. This book can easily be finished in just a few sittings and remains interesting and thoughtful throughout. My only dislike is the author's attempt to formulate his own 'Philosophy Without Hubris' theory, in which I find many inconsistencies. Still, this is only done in the last chapter and gives the reader a chance to perorm a critical evaluation. For those about to delve into the tumultuous world of moral thought, I highly recommend this book. However, if you're already familiar with the basics, you should probably investigate other titles.
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