Questions of Life and Death: Readings in Practical Ethics

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Featuring sixty-seven classic and contemporary selections, Questions of Life and Death: Readings in Practical Ethics is ideal for courses in contemporary moral problems, applied ethics, and introduction to ethics. In contrast with other moral problems anthologies, it deals exclusively with current moral issues concerning life and death--the ethics of saving lives and the ethics of killing. By focusing on these specific questions--rather than on an unrelated profusion of moral problems--this volume offers a theoretically unified presentation that enables students to see how their conclusions regarding one moral issue can affect their positions on other debates.

Questions of Life and Death includes readings on socially and politically relevant controversies including famine, killing in war, terrorism, capital punishment, killing animals, suicide, euthanasia, and abortion. The essays include classic works by Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, and John Locke alongside contemporary selections by Thomas Nagel, James Rachels, Peter Singer, Judith Jarvis Thomson, Michael Walzer, and many others. Rather than presenting students with readings on abstract and complex moral theories, editor Christopher Morris has chosen works that reflect "middle-level moral theory" and inspire everyday questions like "What if everyone did that?" Each reading is preceded by a brief introduction and followed by discussion questions. For additional theoretical background, students can consult the final chapter, a "Moral Theory Primer" (by Mark Timmons), which clearly outlines various theories.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Questions of Life and Death is an excellent, well-designed textbook. Its chief strength is the coherence of the book as a whole. Rather than simply sampling from a variety of contemporary moral debates, it allows students to systematically explore the ethics of life and death. Because all of the topics in Morris's text share the theme of life and death, it more consistently challenges students to inquire deeply."--Linda Radzik, Texas A&M University

"This is the best text I've ever seen that deals with issues of life and death. The introductions will really give students a sense of what hangs on each issue, why the two sides do not see eye to eye, and so on. For the issues selected, Morris has done an excellent job of compiling the best imaginable readings."--David J. Yount, Mesa Community College

"This text is a welcome breath of fresh air in the area of teaching applied ethics. Through fifteen extensive chapters, it combines older classic articles with new sparkling thought to engage not only the casual reader or the undergraduate student required to read it, but also the instructor of a class on applied ethics."--Vasileios Tsompanidis

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195156980
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/8/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher W. Morris is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland. He is the author of An Essay on the Modern State (1998) and the editor or coeditor of several books, including Amartya Sen (2009) and Violence, Terrorism, and Justice (1991).

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Table of Contents

1. R. M. Hare, What Is Life?
2. Thomas Aquinas, Of Murder
3. John Locke, The Natural State of Men
4. John Paul II, Thou Shall Not Kill
5. Thomas Hobbes, The Value of a Man Is His Price
6. Jeff McMahan, Killing
7. Jonathan Glover, Not Playing God
8. James Rachels, Death and Evil
9. Thomas Nagel, Death
10. Robert Nozick, Death
11. Thomas Aquinas, Happiness
12. Thomas Hobbes, Felicity
13. Robert Nozick, The Experience Machine
14. Martha Nussbaum, A Conception of the Human Being: The Central Human Capabilities
15. Derek Parfit, What Makes Someone's Life Go Best?
16. Thomas Nagel, The Meaning of Life
17. Peter Singer, Famine, Affluence, and Morality
18. David Schmidtz, Islands in a Sea of Obligation: Limits of the Duty to Rescue
19. Christopher W. Morris, Notes on War and Peace
20. Thomas Hobbes, War of Every One against Every One
21. Thomas Aquinas, Of War
22. Harry Truman, Address to the American People, 9 August 1945
23. John Rawls, Fifty Years after Hiroshima
24. Thomas Nagel, War and Massacre
25. Michael Walzer, Supreme Emergency
26. George Orwell, On the Futility of Limiting War
27. George I. Mavrodes, Conventions and the Morality of War
28. Jeff McMahan, The Ethics of Killing in War
29. R. G. Frey and Christopher W. Morris, Violence, Terrorism, and Justice
30. Loren Lomasky, The Political Significance of Terrorism
31. Douglas Lackey, The Evolution of the Modern Terrorist State: Area Bombing and Nuclear Deterrence
32. Robert K. Fullinwider, Terrorism, Innocence, and War
33. Thomas Aquinas, Whether It Is Lawful to Kill Sinners?
34. Immanuel Kant, The Right of Punishing
35. John Paul II, The Death Penalty
36. Amnesty International, The Death Penalty and the Right to Life
37. Hugo Adam Bedau, The Case against the Death Penalty
38. Louis P. Pojman, Why the Death Penalty Is Morally Permissible
39. Christopher W. Morris, Punishment and Loss of Moral Standing
40. Thomas Aquinas, The Status of Animals
41. Immanuel Kant, Duties with Regard to Animals
42. Peter Singer, All Animals Are Equal
43. Peter Carruthers, Against the Moral Standing of Animals
44. Alastair Norcross, Puppies, Pigs, and People: Eating Meat and Marginal Cases
45. Seneca, On the Proper Time to Slip the Cable
46. Thomas Aquinas, Whether It Is Lawful to Kill Oneself?
47. David Hume, Of Suicide
48. John Paul II, The Tragedy of Euthanasia
49. James Rachels, Active and Passive Euthanasia
50. Frances M. Kamm, A Right to Choose Death? A Moral Argument for the Permissibility of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide
51. David Velleman, Against the Right to Die
52. Allen Buchanan, Intending Death: The Structure of the Problem and Proposed Solutions
53. President's Commission, Defining Death
54. David DeGrazia, Biology, Consciousness, and the Definition of Death
55. Jeff McMahan, Endings
56. John Paul II, The Unspeakable Crime of Abortion
57. Judith Jarvis Thomson, A Defense of Abortion
58. Mary Ann Warren, On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion (and Postscript on Infanticide, 1982)
59. Donald Marquis, Why Abortion Is Immoral
60. Jeff McMahan, Beginnings
61. Eugene Mills, The Egg and I: Conception, Identity, and Abortion
62. Paul Gomberg, Abortion and the Morality of Nurturance
63. Leon Kass, Preventing a Brave New World
64. Robert George (joined by Alfonso Gómez-Lobo), Human Cloning and Human Dignity
65. Michael Tooley, The Moral Status of Cloning
66. Gregory S. Kavka, The Paradox of Future Individuals
67. Mark Timmons, A Moral Theory Primer

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