The Elements of Moral Philosophy

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The Elements of Moral Philosophy
Author Rachels, James
Country United States
Language English
Subject Ethics
Genre Philosophy
  • 1986 (McGraw-Hill, 1st edition)
  • 1993 (2nd edition)
  • 1999 (3rd edition)
  • 2003 (4th edition)
  • 2007 (5th edition)
  • 2009 (6th edition)
  • 2011 (7th edition)
  • 2014 (8th edition)
Media type Hardcover, Paperback
ISBN 0-07-282574-X
OCLC 173081152

The Elements of Moral Philosophy, by James Rachels and Stuart Rachels, is an ethics textbook. It explains a number of moral theories and topics, including cultural relativism, subjectivism, divine command theory, ethical egoism, social contract theory, utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, and deontology. The book uses real-life examples in explaining the theories.


James Rachels wrote the first edition in 1986. He revised the book three times, adding a chapter on "The Ethics of Virtue" in 1993 and a chapter on "Feminism and the Ethics of Care" in 1999. The fourth edition appeared in 2003, the year Rachels died. Since then, his son Stuart has written the fifth edition and the sixth edition, which was released in April 2009. An 8th edition was released in October 2014. The book has been translated into Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, Persian and Albanian. It is known for its accessibility to a wide readership.

David Fordyce wrote a book with the same title—however, aside from the titles, these books are largely unrelated.

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