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Jeff McMahan was educated at Oxford and Cambridge and was a Research Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. He is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently working on a companion volume to this book that will deal with the ethics of killing in self-defense, in war, and as a mode of punishment.
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 [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