Problems from Philosophy / Edition 3

Paperback (Print)
Rent from
(Save 75%)
Est. Return Date: 07/21/2015
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $43.61
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 53%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (23) from $43.61   
  • New (5) from $62.43   
  • Used (18) from $43.61   


Problems from Philosophy is an introduction to philosophy which is organized around the great philosophical problems—the existence of God, the nature of the mind, human freedom, the limits of knowledge, and the truth about ethics. It begins by reflecting on the life of the first great philosopher, Socrates. Then it takes up the fundamental question of whether God exists. Next comes a discussion of death and the soul, which leads to a chapter about persons. The later chapters of the book are about whether objective knowledge is possible in science and ethics. Each chapter is self-contained and may be read independently of the others.

Problems from Philosophy represents the final work of author and philosopher James Rachels. In it, he brings the same liveliness and clarity to the introduction of philosophy that he brings to his best-selling ethics text, The Elements of Moral Philosophy. The second and third edition have been revised by Rachels' son Stuart, who carefully has carefully refined his father's work to further strengthen its clarity and accessibility.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780073535890
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Higher Education
  • Publication date: 1/28/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 59,954
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet 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 from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He taught at the University of Richmond, New York University, the University of Miami, Duke University, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he spent the last twenty-six years of his career. 1971 saw the publication of Rachels’ groundbreaking textbook Moral Problems, which ignited the movement in America away from teaching ethical theory towards teaching concrete practical issues. Moral Problems sold 100,000 copies over three editions. 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.

STUART RACHELS is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama. He has revised

several of James Rachels’ books, including Problems from Philosophy (second edition, 2009) and The Right Thing to Do (fifth edition, 2010), which is the companion anthology to this book. Stuart won the United States Chess Championship in 1989, at the age of 20, and he is a Bronze Life Master at bridge. His website is

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: The Legacy of Socrates

1.1. Why Was Socrates Condemned?

1.2. Why Did Socrates Believe He Had to Die?

Chapter 2: God and the Origin of the Universe

2.1. Is It Reasonable to Believe in God?

2.2. The Argument from Design

2.3. Evolution and Intelligent Design

2.4. The First Cause Argument

2.5. The Idea that God Is a Necessary Being

Chapter 3: The Problem of Evil

3.1. Why Do Good People Suffer?

3.2. God and Evil

3.3. Free Will and Moral Character

Chapter 4: Do We Survive Death?

4.1. The Idea of an Immortal Soul

4.2. Is There Any Credible Evidence of an Afterlife?

4.3. Hume's Argument Against Miracles

Chapter 5: The Problem of Personal Identity

5.1. The Problem

5.2. Personhood at a Moment

5.3. Personhood over Time

5.4. Bodily Continuity

5.5. Memory

Chapter 6: Body and Mind

6.1. Descartes and Elizabeth

6.2. Materialist Theories of the Mind

6.3. Doubts About Materialist Theories

Chapter 7: Could a Machine Think?

7.1. Brains and Computers

7.2. An Argument that Machines Could Think

7.3. The Turing Test

7.4. Why the Turing Test Fails

Chapter 8: The Case Against Free Will

8.1. Are People Responsible for What They Do?

8.2. Determinism

8.3. Psychology

8.4. Genes and Behavior

Chapter 9: The Debate Over Free Will

9.1. The Determinist Argument

9.2. The Libertarian Response

9.3. The Compatibilist Response

9.4. Ethics and Free Will

Chapter 10: Our Knowledge of the World Around Us

10.1. Vats and Demons

10.2. Idealism

10.3. What Evidence for These Views Might Be Like

10.4. Descartes' Theological Response

10.5. Direct vs. Indirect Realism

10.6. Vision and the Brain

10.7. The Natural Theory

Chapter 11: Ethics and Objectivity

11.1. Thrasymachus's Challenge

11.2. Is Ethics Just Social Conventions?

11.3. Ethics and Science

11.4. The Importance of Human Interests

Chapter 12: Why Should We Be Moral?

12.1. The Ring of Gyges

12.2. Ethics and Religion

12.3. The Social Contract

12.4. Morality and Benevolence

Chapter 13: The Meaning of Life

13.1. The Problem of the Point of View

13.2. Happiness

13.3. Death

13.4. Religion and the Indifferent Universe

13.5. The Meaning of Particular Lives

Appendix: How to Evaluate Arguments

Notes on Sources

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2015

    The outlook situation of book is worse that I thought, but the i

    The outlook situation of book is worse that I thought, but the inner is good.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)