The Ethics of Killing

Problems at the Margins of Life

Jeff McMahan

The Ethics of Killing

Problems at the Margins of Life

Jeff McMahan

ISBN:

9780195169829

Binding:

Paperback

Published:

15 Mar 2009

Availability:

Print on demand

Series:

$58.95 AUD

$79.99 NZD

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Description

"...applied ethics at its best.... anyone who is serious about getting to the bottom of issues like abortion, infanticide, brain death, euthanasia, and the killing of nonhuman animals will have to take account of the novel and ingenious theory presented in Jeff McMahan's lucidly-written, rigorously-argued book."--Peter Singer, Princeton University

Authors

Jeff McMahan , Professor of Philosophy, Rutgers University, United States

Jeff McMahan is Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University.

Reviews

"In this exceptional new book, Jeff McMahan offers nuanced and illuminating accounts of personal identity, human nature, the badness of death, the wrongness of killing, the rights of animals, abortion, and euthanasia. This book is a major contribution to both moral theory and applied ethics, and makes a strong case for the relevance of the former to the latter. It is also beautifully written and a joy to read. This is a long, dense book, overflowing with examples, arguments, and counterarguments. [It] is a tour de force of contemporary naturalistic ethics. Defenders of the naturalistic project will cite it as the best evidence yet that the project is on the right track, yielding insights into a wide range of pressing topical issues... No-one on either side can afford to ignore this book." --Tim Mulgan, Canadian Journal of Philosophy

"This is a book that aims to answer practical questions (such as whether and when abortion and euthanasia are permissible and how we should treat animals and the retarded) by answering such theoretical questions as what we are, when we begin and cease to exist, when it is worth caring about the continuation of our lives, and who is entitled to respect. McMahan provides detailed, rigorously argued, comprehensive, and often unconventional answers to both the theoretical and practical questions. The book is an enormous achievement and required reading for anyone concerned with questions of personal identity, issues of life and death, and the morality governing relations with animals."--Frances Kamm, Philosophical Review

"This book is an important contribution to moral philosophy. With respect to the interest of its ideas, and the strength of its arguments, the level of quality is consistently high. Readers will struggle to follow the twists and turns of the discussion, not because it is badly presented or unnecessarily complex, but because it is difficult for us to think as deeply into the issues as McMahan himself does.... [A] complex, and rewarding book."--Dennis McKerlie, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

"Jeff McMahan is one of America's leading contemporary moral philosophers and perhaps one of its most courageous. McMahan's long awaited and widely acclaimed book, The Ethics of Killing, advances a groundbreaking theory of the morality of killing and letting die. ... [Its] arguments are numerous, subtle, and detailed...one of the most comprehensive, rigorous, and illuminating discussions of the morality of ending marginal lives, brimming with thought-provoking observations and arguments that will shape the course of future debate."--Caroline West, The Drawing Board: An Australian Review of Public Affairs

"Masterful...admirably thorough and sensitive...The thoroughness and comprehensiveness with which [McMahan] has worked out [his] ideas is deeply impressive. The presentation is throughout so lucid that non-specialists should be able to profit greatly from the book...There could be no better proof of the paradoxical vitality of the subject of death and killing than this monumental book."-- Ingmar Persson, The Times Literary Supplement

"The Ethics of Killing is detailed, careful, comprehensive, and innovative...[It] is an example of philosophy at the highest level. It is a genuine pleasure to have the opportunity to read such a probing, careful, analytical, honest, and utterly wonderful book. I recommend it highly. It would not be unreasonable to make it required reading for any graduate student (or anyone else) who needs to understand the nature of first-class philosophical thought."--Don Marquis, Ethics

"McMahan formulates a ground-breaking general theory of the ethics of killing and letting die. The Ethics of Killing is a long book, jammed with interesting and provocative arguments. [It is] an exceptionally argumentatively rich book, the essential starting point for all future discussions of the killing of individuals at the margins of life."--Nicholas Agar, The Australasian Journal of Philosophy

"McMahan is one of America's finest contemporary moral theorists...[His] long-awaited book...combines a close attention to real-life moral issues with a solid insight into foundational matters of metaphysics and ethical theory. ..It is always well-argued, sophisticated and very interesting...The Ethics of Killing...is an excellent book and deserves close study."--Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, Sats: Nordic Journal of Philosophy

"With a careful application of metaphysics to ethics, McMahan has developed a field of argument that has been insufficiently explored, and in so doing, created a whole new structure for the debates surrounding abortion and euthanasia. This makes this a novel and, at times, exciting book."--Michael Lacewing, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"McMahan's book is outstanding within the present literature in virtue of its breadth, succinctness, and argumentative erudition...The two dominant qualities of the book are, first, an extraordinary care for argumentative fairness and balance, and second, a new interest in bringing applied ethics into helpful contact with its so far neglected philosophical foundations."--Anton Leist, Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie

"The Ethics of Killing is a dense though fresh and rigorously argued account of the circumstances under which it may be allowable, and in some cases even preferable, to terminate "marginal" lives (e.g., fetuses, severely handicapped babies, terminal patients). The book is full of fine distinctions, rich case studies, and helpful, innovative terminology. It dismantles many of the current arguments for and against the permissibility of killing human beings whose metaphysical and moral status is contentious. It represents one of the most comprehensive and meticulous books in the field of bioethics to date. McMahan's analyses are consistently innovative and razor sharp. This is analytic philosophy par excellence, one that works the mind as an arduous mountain climb works the body."--Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"Overflowing with arguments, painstakingly dissecting a wide range of alternative views. Whatever your own views about these important issues, they will be thoroughly challenged here. The Ethics of Killing is a remarkable book.-- Shelly Kagan, Yale University

"This book sets out from central issues in moral theory and brings us in the end to some of the hardest moral problems of modern life. It is a book of deep, intricate, concentrated and continuous argument, presented in the clearest language. At the beginning of the new century, it will form the cornerstone of the moral philosophy of killing."--John Broome, Oxford University

"The Ethics of Killing is a terrific book that addresses fundamental issues in a detailed, sophisticated way. It is full of new ideas and insights. Anyone who is interested in thinking deeply about abortion, infanticide, or euthanasia, could not do better than to start with McMahan's discussion."--James Rachels, Late Professor of Philosophy, University of Alabama, Birmingham

"This is a book that aims to answer practical questions (such as whether and when abortion and euthanasia are permissible and how we should treat animals and the retarded) by answering such theoretical questions as what we are, when we begin and cease to exist, when it is worth caring about the continuation of our lives, and who is entitled to respect. McMahan provides detailed, rigorously argued, comprehensive, and often unconventional answers to both the theoretical and practical questions. The book is an enormous achievement and required reading for anyone concerned with questions of personal identity, issues of life and death, and the morality governing relations with animals."--Frances Kamm, Philosophical Review

"This book is an important contribution to moral philosophy. With respect to the interest of its ideas, and the strength of its arguments, the level of quality is consistently high. Readers will struggle to follow the twists and turns of the discussion, not because it is badly presented or unnecessarily complex, but because it is difficult for us to think as deeply into the issues as McMahan himself does.... [A] complex, and rewarding book."--Dennis McKerlie, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

"In this exceptional new book, Jeff McMahan offers nuanced and illuminating accounts of personal identity, human nature, the badness of death, the wrongness of killing, the rights of animals, abortion, and euthanasia. This book is a major contribution to both moral theory and applied ethics, and makes a strong case for the relevance of the former to the latter. It is also beautifully written and a joy to read. This is a long, dense book, overflowing with examples, arguments, and counterarguments. [It] is a tour de force of contemporary naturalistic ethics. Defenders of the naturalistic project will cite it as the best evidence yet that the project is on the right track, yielding insights into a wide range of pressing topical issues... No-one on either side can afford to ignore this book." --Tim Mulgan, Canadian Journal of Philosophy

"Jeff McMahan is one of America's leading contemporary moral philosophers and perhaps one of its most courageous. McMahan's long awaited and widely acclaimed book, The Ethics of Killing, advances a groundbreaking theory of the morality of killing and letting die. ... [Its] arguments are numerous, subtle, and detailed...one of the most comprehensive, rigorous, and illuminating discussions of the morality of ending marginal lives, brimming with thought-provoking observations and arguments that will shape the course of future debate."--Caroline West, The Drawing Board: An Australian Review of Public Affairs

"McMahan formulates a ground-breaking general theory of the ethics of killing and letting die. The Ethics of Killing is a long book, jammed with interesting and provocative arguments. [It is] an exceptionally argumentatively rich book, the essential starting point for all future discussions of the killing of individuals at the margins of life."--Nicholas Agar, The Australasian Journal of Philosophy

"[McMahan's] language is clear and the arguments well presented...recommended reading for anyone who wants to be informed about the arguments surrounding issues at the margins of life, whether they ultimately agree or disagree with what he has to say."--Bulletin of Medical Ethics

"McMahan's critical discussion of [Judith Jarvis Thomson's argument for abortion] is the best I have seen. The Ethics of Killing puts th[e] technique [of deploying thought-experiments] to more systematic and imaginative use than any other book I know of."--Stephen Mulhall, London Review of Books

"This is a deep, detailed, examination of the full range of moral problems having to do with killing those who are at the beginning of life (abortion) and those who are at its end (euthanasia). McMahan brings out the sources of the problems and the connections among them; his extensive discussions of the ideas of the moral theorists with whom he disagrees are beautifully clear and fair; and he draws some new conclusions--they are bound to capture attention and provoke debate. The book is a major piece of work, required reading for anyone with an interest in moral theory."--Judith Jarvis Thomson, MIT

"The Ethics of Killing is applied ethics at its best. From now on, anyone who is serious about getting to the bottom of issues like abortion, infanticide, brain death, euthanasia and the killing of nonhuman animals will have to take account of the novel and ingenious theory presented in Jeff McMahan's lucidly-written, rigorously-argued book."--Peter Singer, Princeton University

"Outstanding...[McMahan's] book is an enormously rich contribution to personal identity theory, ethical theory, and applied ethics. [Each of the five hefty chapters] could be a short book of scholarly significance. Chapter 2 presents the most probing investigation of the harm of death of which I am aware.--David DeGrazia, Philosophy and Public Affairs

"With a careful application of metaphysics to ethics, McMahan has developed a field of argument that has been insufficiently explored, and in so doing, created a whole new structure for the debates surrounding abortion and euthanasia. This makes this a novel and, at times, exciting book."--Michael Lacewing, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"McMahan's book is outstanding within the present literature in virtue of its breadth, succinctness, and argumentative erudition...The two dominant qualities of the book are, first, an extraordinary care for argumentative fairness and balance, and second, a new interest in bringing applied ethics into helpful contact with its so far neglected philosophical foundations."--Anton Leist, Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie

"McMahan is one of America's finest contemporary moral theorists...[His] long-awaited book...combines a close attention to real-life moral issues with a solid insight into foundational matters of metaphysics and ethical theory. ..It is always well-argued, sophisticated and very interesting...The Ethics of Killing... is an excellent book and deserves close study. I recommend it to anyone who, for professional or existential reasons, is interested in the topics it tackles. And who is not for the latter reasons?"--Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, Sats: Nordic Journal of Philosophy

"Masterful...admirably thorough and sensitive...The thoroughness and comprehensiveness with which [McMahan] has worked out [his] ideas is deeply impressive. The presentation is throughout so lucid that non-specialists should be able to profit greatly from the book...There could be no better proof of the paradoxical vitality of the subject of death and killing than this monumental book."-- Ingmar Persson, The Times Literary Supplement

"Publication of this book is a welcome event...McMahan's discussions involve analyses of more alternative views than, I suspect, anyone other than McMahan has ever imagined. The Ethics of Killing is detailed, careful, comprehensive, and innovative...[It] is an example of philosophy at the highest level. It is a genuine pleasure to have the opportunity to read such a probing, careful, analytical, honest, and utterly wonderful book. I recommend it highly. It would not be unreasonable to make it required reading for any graduate student (or anyone else) who needs to understand the nature of first-class philosophical thought."--Don Marquis, Ethics

"The Ethics of Killing is a dense though fresh and rigorously argued account of the circumstances under which it may be allowable, and in some cases even preferable, to terminate "marginal" lives (e.g., fetuses, severely handicapped babies, terminal patients). The book is full of fine distinctions, rich case studies, and helpful, innovative terminology. It dismantles many of the current arguments for and against the permissibility of killing human beings whose metaphysical and moral status is contentious. It represents one of the most comprehensive and meticulous books in the field of bioethics to date. McMahan's analyses are consistently innovative and razor sharp. This is analytic philosophy par excellence, one that works the mind as an arduous mountain climb works the body."--Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"This book sets out from central issues in moral theory and brings us in the end to some of the hardest moral problems of modern life. It is a book of deep, intricate, concentrated and continuous argument, presented in the clearest language. At the beginning of the new century, it will form the cornerstone of the moral philosophy of killing."--John Broome, Oxford University

"The Ethics of Killing is a terrific book that addresses fundamental issues in a detailed, sophisticated way. It is full of new ideas and insights. Anyone who is interested in thinking deeply about abortion, infanticide, or euthanasia, could not do better than to start with McMahan's discussion."--James Rachels, Late Professor of Philosophy, University of Alabama, Birmingham

"Beginning with an original view about the nature of personal identity, McMahan goes on to offer illuminating discussions of the badness of death, and the wrongness of killing in various 'marginal' cases (e.g., animals, fetuses, or cases involving brain death). To be sure, the book does not make for easy reading. It is densely written and overflowing with arguments, painstakingly dissecting a wide range of alternative views. But whatever your own views about these important issues, they will be thoroughly challenged here. The Ethics of Killing is a remarkable book."--Shelly Kagan, Yale University