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The Elements of Moral Philosophy
de James Rachels
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I thought this was a wonderfully readable short introduction to the philosophy of morality. Serious but not overly complicated. For a 200 page paperback it's frighteningly expensive since it's frequently used as a textbook; thank god for libraries! I read the 4th ed of this book, so I'm not sure how different the most recent 6th edition is. ( )
A must read.
Socrates: We are discussing no small matter, but how we ought to live.
This review is mostly for who is new to the world of Ethics-by-the-book, as I am.
Therefore, if you want to expand your knowledge and ethical reasoning beyond the golden rule, this book might be the best start. It is very up-to-date, very structured, not boring at all: it tries to explain philosophically the answers to many questions we have asked ourselves:
After starting with very interesting and modern examples to illustrate the questions above, the author goes on to analyse the proposals of the great philosophers to explain Ethics as a solution for humanity (and not only) so that the happiness of the individual is also optimised. Thus, it goes to the description, pro's and con's of:
All of them seem attractive at first sight, but no, none is perfect :)
Actually, that is what disappoints me regarding this book - that there is no clear solution to "how we ought to live" and the moral problems described in the first chapters seem to remain unsolved, because the author tries to be politically correct. Nevertheless, the ideas of Ethics of Care (feminism) and Ethics of Virtue proposed are almost convincing.
To put it differently,the fact that the book is more a textbook than a philosophical thesis meant to convince, is the reason why I liked much, much more the first Ethics book I've read -- [b:Ética para Amador|112646|Ética para Amador|Fernando Savater|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1184548934s/112646.jpg|108460], by [a:Fernando Savater|17835|Fernando Savater|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1352055666p2/17835.jpg]; this one went straight to my heart, even though it is simpler (it is a book for teenagers.) So I will promote it to 4 or 5 starts.
This is a good introduction to the complex world of moral theory, but it remains no more than an introduction. Despite the brief length of the book, Rachels manages to cover all of the main approaches to moral theory advanced over the years, but at the expense of some detail, and he occasionally skims over some of the issues involved. Nevertheless his characterisations, particularly of virtue ethics and utilitarianism are well written and concise. Less successful is his attempt in the final chapter to lay out a moral theory of his own, which he only manages to outline very sketchily and really deserves a book of its own.
This is a great text for an introductory level ethics course at a community or state college. I probably wouldn't use it to teach a university class, as it's a bit oversimplified, but Rachels does a fantastic job of explaining the major ethical theories in terms that can be understood by the non-philosopher. This text pairs up well with his The Right Thing to Do in a course that deals with applied ethics also.
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Wikipedia en anglès (4)
Firmly established as the standard text for undergraduate courses in ethics, this concise, lively book combines clear explanations of the main theories of ethics with discussions of interesting examples. Topics covered include famine relief, euthanasia, homosexuality, and the treatment of animals. The text's versatility allows it to be widely used not only in ethical theory courses, but also in applied ethics courses of all kinds.
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)170 — Philosophy and Psychology Ethics Ethics -- Subdivisions
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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