Unit Overview

In this first week we begin our study of moral philosophy, or moral inquiry, guided by rational principles. Philosophers since the time of Socrates have focused attempting to figure out the rational principles that underlie moral reasoning. In the chapter from our textbook, Rachels offers three case studies for our consideration and asks us to consider what we think is right in those cases. He concludes that the minimum conception of morality is “the effort to guide one’s conduct by reason.” This idea is one we will explore further as the course goes on.


  • James Rachels The Elements of Moral Philosophy 8th Edition – Chapter 1 (provided below, in case you haven’t gotten your textbook yet, is an electronic copy of Chapter 1)
  •  Rachels Chapter 1 (4th Ed)
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