The Truth about the World: Basic Readings in Philosophy / Edition 2

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This collection of essays addresses some of the most important issues in philosophy, involving God, the mind, freedom, knowledge, and ethics. It can accompany James and Stuart Rachels' introductory text, Problems from Philosophy, or it can stand alone with great effectiveness. The Truth about the World and Problems from Philosophy are James Rachels' last contributions to philosophy, and each book has now been revised by his son, Stuart. In these two books, the respected author found a culminating expression for his love of philosophy.

The second edition of The Truth about the World includes: thirty-one essential readings drawn from classical and contemporary sources within the main branches of philosophy, each preceded by a brief note about the reading and the significance of its author. seven new readings, carefully selected for their clarity and accessibility, including "Socrates' Decision to Die," by Plato; "Why Doesn't God Intervene?" by B. C. Johnson; "Where Am I?" by Daniel C. Dennett; "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness," by David Chalmers; and "The Lure of Radical Skepticism," by Michael Huemer, expanded coverage of the Design Argument with the addition of "The Fine-Tuning Argument" by Peter van Inwagen, and new material on ethical theory with the addition of James Rachels' discussion of Utilitarianism from The Elements of Moral Philosophy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780073386614
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, The
  • Publication date: 11/5/2007
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (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

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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Introduction   James Rachels     1
Socrates' Trial   Plato     7
Socrates' Decision to Die   Plato     32
Socrates' Question about Justice   Plato     45
Five Ways to Prove That God Exists   St. Thomas Aquinas     55
The Watch and the Watch-Maker   William Paley     63
The Fine-Tuning Argument   Peter van Inwagen     68
Why Doesn't God Intervene?   B. C. Johnson     83
The Problem of Evil   Michael L. Peterson     90
Why I Am Not a Christian   Bertrand Russell     99
You Bet Your Life: Pascal's Wager Defended   William Lycan   George Schlesinger     114
The Mind
Do We Survive Death?   Bertrand Russell     127
Split Brains and Personal Identity   Derek Parfit     132
Where Am I?   Daniel C. Dennett     141
The Mind-Brain Identity Theory   David Armstrong     156
Bat Sonar   Thomas Nagel     169
Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness   David Chalmers     173
The Myth of the Computer   John R. Searle     186
Existentialism Is a Humanism   Jean-Paul Sartre     195
Compatibilism Defended   W. T. Stace     212
On Liberty   John Stuart Mill     219
Meditations I and II   Rene Descartes     225
Does Matter Exist?   George Berkeley     235
The Lure of Radical Skepticism   Michael Huemer     240
Reality   J. L. Austin     258
Ethics and Human Feeling   David Hume     271
Our Sense of Right and Wrong   C. S. Lewis     275
Four Ethical Principles   Peter Singer     280
The Debate over Utilitarianism   James Rachels   Stuart Rachels     286
The Virtues   Martha C. Nussbaum     302
The Meaning of Life   Richard Taylor     314
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