Problems from Philosophy with PowerWeb: Philosophy / Edition 1

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Overview

"This book is an introduction to some of the main problems of philosophy--God, mind, freedom, knowledge, and ethics. The chapters may be read independently of one another. But when read in order, they tell a more or less continuous story. We begin with some reflections about the legacy of Socrates and then go on to the existence of God, which is perhaps the most basic philosophical question of all because our answer to it influences how we will answer all the others. This leads naturally to a discussion of death and the soul, and then to more modern ideas about the nature of persons. The later chapters are about whether it is possible for us to have objective knowledge in either science or ethics." James Rachels, from the Preface

Problems from Philosophy and The Truth About the World: Basic Readings in Philosophy are at once James Rachels' newest contributions to philosophy and his last. In these two books, Rachels found a culminating expression for his love of philosophy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780072980806
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Higher Education
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 225
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.40 (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.
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Table of Contents

Preface

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. Bodily Continuity

5.3. Memory

5.4. The Bundle Theory

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. The Brain in the Vat

10.2. Descartes' Problem

10.3. Three Other Attempts to Solve the Problem

10.4. Vision and the Brain

10.5. The NaturalTheory

Chapter 11: Ethics and Objectivity

11.1. Thrasymachus's Challenge

11.2. Is Ethics Just a Matter of 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

Suggestions for Further Reading

Notes on Sources

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2005

    Simply the Best Introduction to Philosophy

    This is simply the best introduction to philosophy in the English language. It's chock full of insights on everything from free will to God to the meaning of life. And it's written with Rachels' characteristic clarity and precision. I recommend it to anyone interested in philosophy.

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