The Right Thing to Do: Basic Readings in Moral Philosophy by James Rachels

5th edition (2010) by Stuart Rachels

The Right Thing to Do is the engaging companion anthology to James Rachels and Stuart Rachels' best-selling textbook, The Elements of Moral Philosophy. The 36 readings in this volume cover the main ethical theories and present a wealth of ideas about various practical matters. The readings cover such topics as Utilitarianism, Kantianism, The Social Contract Theory, Virtue Ethics, subjectivism, abortion, infanticide, animal rights, war, terrorism, the death penalty, affirmative action, euthanasia, poverty, homosexuality, prostitution, monogamy, date rape, racism, torture, genetic engineering, and civil disobedience. Although instructors often use The Right Thing to Do alongside The Elements of Moral Philosophy, the book is designed to stand alone.

Buy the book from Amazon.

Buy the book from Barnes & Noble.

Read about the (outdated) fourth edition.

About the Fifth Edition

Here are some links to information about the fifth edition:

Contents. The new table of contents.

Preface. The new preface.

Suggested Syllabus for Instructors. This syllabus combines The Elements of Moral Philosophy, 6/e, and The Right Thing to Do, 5/e.

Why this book is better than its competitors. Okay, that's immodest, but here are some thoughts.

This site does not contain test questions, study guides, or lecture notes. Presumably, those must differ from class to class.


In the headnote to Burton Leiser's "Is Homosexuality Unnatural?" we say, "In the United States, homosexuals can marry only in Massachusetts and Connecticut .." (p. 237) Update: today gay marriage is also legal in Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C.

Email Me Your Thoughts

Are there any essays you'd like to see in the next edition? Notice any typos? Please send me your thoughts. My email address is --Stuart Rachels