The Right Thing To Do: Basic Readings in Moral Philosophy / Edition 5

The Right Thing To Do: Basic Readings in Moral Philosophy / Edition 5

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McGraw-Hill Higher Education


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The Right Thing To Do: Basic Readings in Moral Philosophy / Edition 5

This collection of readings in moral theory and moral issues from major Western philosophers is the ideal companion reader for James Rachels' text The Elements of Moral Philosophy. The anthology explores further the theories and issues introduced in that volume, in their original and classic formulations. The collection can stand on its own as the text for a course in moral philosophy, or it can be used to supplement any introductory text.

This fifth edition contains new essays about prostitution, monogamy, date rape, terrorism, torture, genetic engineering, and the atomic bombings of Japan.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780073407401
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Higher Education
Publication date: 03/03/2009
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About 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

Table of Contents

*Contents are preliminary*

* indicates new to this edition


1. A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy, James Rachels

2. Some Basic Points about Arguments, James Rachels


3. Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill

4. Utilitarianism and Integrity, Bernard Williams

5. The Experience Machine, Robert Nozick


6. The Subjectivity of Values, J.L. Mackie

7. The Categorical Imperative, Immanuel Kant

8. The Virtues, Aristotle

*9. Master Morality and Slave Morality, Fredrich Nietzsche

*10. Caring Relations and Principles of Justice, Virginia Held


11. Why Abortion is Immoral, Don Marquis

12. A Defense of Abortion, Judith Jarvis Thomson

*13. On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion / Postscript on Infanticide, Mary Ann Warren


14. All Animals Are Equal, Peter Singer

Torturing Puppies and Eating Meat: It's All in Good Taste, Alastair Norcross

16. Do Animals Have Rights?, Tibor R. Machan


17. 9/11 and Starvation, Mylan Engel, Jr.

18. The Singer Solution to World Poverty, Peter Singer


19. The Ethics of War and Peace, Douglas P. Lackey

20. Fifty Years After Hiroshima, John Rawls

21. What is Wrong with Terrorism?, Thomas Nagal

*22. The War on Terrorism and the End of Human Rights, David Luban

23. Liberalism, Torture, and the Ticking Bomb David Luban

The Death Penalty

*24. A Defense of the Death Penalty, Louis P. Pojam

*25. Why The United States Will Join the Rest of the World in Abandoning Capital Punishment, Stephen B. Bright


26. America’s Unjust Drug War, Michael Huemer

27. Is Homosexuality Unnatural?, Burton M. Leiser

28. Monogamy: A Critique, John Murtry

29. Our Sexual Ethics, Bertrand Russell

30. Alcohol and Rape, Nicholas Dixon

31. Letter from the Birmingham City Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr.

32. Is Racial Discrimination Arbitrary?, Peter Singer

33. In Defense of Quotas, James Rachels


34. The Morality of Euthanasia, James Rachels

35. Assisted Suicide: Pro-Choice or Anti-Life?, Richard Doerflinger

*36. The New Eugenics, Matt Ridley

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