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Rights, Restitution, and Risk: Essays in Moral Theory [Paperback]

Judith Jarvis Thomson , William Parent
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

January 31, 1986 0674769813 978-0674769816

Moral theory should be simple: the moral theorist attends to ordinary human action to explain what makes some acts right and others wrong, and we need no microscope to observe a human act. Yet no moral theory that is simple captures all of the morally relevant facts.

In a set of vivid examples, stories, and cases Judith Thomson shows just how wide an array of moral considerations bears on all but the simplest of problems. She is a philosophical analyst of the highest caliber who can tease a multitude of implications out of the story of a mere bit of eavesdropping. She is also a master teller of tales which have a philosophical bite. Beyond these pleasures, however, she brings new depth of understanding to some of the most pressing moral issues of the moment, notably abortion. Thomson's essays determinedly confront the most difficult questions: What is it to have a moral right to life, or any other right? What is the relation between the infringement of such rights and restitution? How is rights theory to deal with the imposition of risk?

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Here are 13 of MIT professor Thomson's best essays on moral philosophy, which deal with some of the most timely and complex issues facing modern society. Beginning with "A Defense of Abortion," a classic of contemporary philosophy, she goes on to analyze such questions as self-defense, right to privacy and preferential hiring, government regulation of behavior, and causation and liability. The common question is, What exactly does it mean to have a right to life or self-defense, or any other right? Filled with illuminating and ingenious examples and counterexamples, this collection is recommended for scholars and students in philosophy, political science, and law. Raymond Frey, Philosophy & Religion Dept., Montclair State Coll., Upper Montclair, N.J.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


These essays are distinguished examples of analytical philosophy: clear, highly intelligent, and scrupulously argued. The presentation is forceful, and several pieces speak directly to important matters of general concern, such as abortion and positive discrimination. Thomson's use of examples is particularly striking. They are starkly presented, and notably unsentimental. Some may find the tone heartless. That effect is not unintentional, and the very bare and unapologetic presentation is designed to shock the reader into reflection. Her work reaches towards morally adventurous conclusions, and is impatient of many received pieties. (Bernard Williams)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (January 31, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674769813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674769816
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,544,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book about Moral Theory March 24, 2000
Thomson's book is a compilation of essays about moral theory. Although the latest essay was written fifteen years ago, all of them deal with issues thet will never turn old fashioned. Amog the thirteen essays that compose this book there are three which I loved the most. The first of them is one that speaks about rights and compensation. In this essay Thomson tries to explain why should a right-holder must be compensated when his right is violated. The essay which I rank second is one which title is "Self-Defense and rightys", which deals with the well known problem about killing or harming someone acting in self-defense. Finally I really liked "Imposing Risks", where Thomson explains when it's legal to impose a risk over another person. I must say that all, the thirteen essays are great. I highly recomend the book.
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