The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life (Oxford Ethics Series) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2003/8/28
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This magisterial work is the first comprehensive study of the ethics of killing, where the moral status of the individual killed is uncertain. Drawing on philosophical notions of personal identity and the immorality of killing, McMahan looks carefully at a host of practical issues, including abortion, infanticide, the killing of animals, assisted suicide, and euthanasia.
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. (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. (Deutsche Zeitschrift fur 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? (Nordic Journal of Philosophy)
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)
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. (Ethics)
Wide range of issues ... richness in details ... 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. (Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, University of Copenhagen, Sats: Nordic Journal of Philosopy)
McMahan is one of America's finest contemporary moral theorists ... The book is well-argued, sophisticated and very interesting. (Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, University of Copenhagen, Sats: Nordic Journal of Philosopy)
The thoroughness and comprehensiveness with which he [McMahan] has worked out these 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 vitality of the subject of death and killing than this monumental book. (Ingmar Persson, Times Literary Supplement)
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)
McMahan is one of America's finest contemporary moral theorists... always well-argued, sophisticated and very interesting... it 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. (Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, Nordic Journal of Philosophy,Vol. 3, No. 2, 2002)
I especially thought impressive McMahan's breadth of knowledge in relevant philosophical and medical topics associated with the main topics such as personal identity, the philosophy of mind, human biological development, moral responsibility, the physiology of death and many other relevant topics. For example, before we know if a killing of a person is wrong, we need to know what a person is to analyse when killings of persons occur. This topic is an issue for personal identity. What are persons? Are they biological organisms? Their brains? Some immaterial soul substance? The book explores in detail all such related topics in depth.
Another cool aspect of this book is that just about all the chapters can be read independently of each other. They all deal with separate topics and McMahan's argumentation do not presuppose knowledge of arguments or information given in previous chapters.
The book's subtitle, "Problems at the Margins of Life" hints that the book covers the ethical issues of these kinds of killing: abortion, of animals, and euthanasia. The book is meant to be the first of a series on killing, later books will cover the ethics of killing in war and in self-defense.
However, even for someone that disagrees with some of Jeff McMahan's positions, the Ethics of Killing is well written, and helps the reader, both professionals as well as students, gain a deeper, physical and metaphysical conception of what is wrong with killing. The writing style uses many examples that appeal to intuition, both positively and negatively, and appeals to which are used by McMahan to make sensible arguments.
This work, intended as the first part of a two part series on Killing, attempts to find exactly what is morally wrong with killing. One answer that is dealt with is what exactly is morally wrong with ending a life. McMahan attempts to resolve such fundamental questions by starting with a notable focus on identity. In identifying what is essentially 'us' as embodied minds, and not something simply biological, McMahan opens new considerations by which to explore the ethical issues in killing. Ultimately, McMahan succeeds in providing a well written examination, that, while can be questioned, must be taken seriously.
Fyi, towards the beginning there is a fair amount about the metaphysics of personal identity, but that material is both fascinating in itself and crucial to much of the ethics that follows.
He also writes clearly, resorting to jargon as little as possible. As a result, the book is accessible to many, in spite of the sophistication of its arguments, which makes it ideal at the graduate-level. As a grad student in Philosophy, I highly recommend "The Ethics of Killing".
The only negative aspect is that, because the book combined breadth with depth, there were parts where it seemed as if he had to pull back. (I have in mind parts having to do with personal identity -- which is a topic clearly worthy of multiple volumes itself). But I guess this is to be expected of a book this ambitious.