Ethics

Below are readings and essay questions for tutorials in Ethics. Many of the readings are available online, and all are easily obtained from the college or other libraries in Oxford, but if you are struggling to get hold of anything, email me, as I have PDF copies of nearly everything.

I have divided the reading for each topic into CORE READING and FURTHER READING, with occasional FURTHER FURTHER READING, and more introductory texts marked with a star (*). Focus on the Core Reading suggestions in writing tutorial essays, and use the Further Reading suggestions as starting points for exploring topics in more depth during vacations. You will find more suggestions in the Faculty Reading List.

The default plan is to cover the following TUTORIAL TOPICS. The first five weeks look at various debates in the early modern period, focusing on Hobbes, Moral Rationalism, and, especially, Hume and Kant, as well as what is in some ways the fundamental issue between the latter two, Free Will. We then spend a couple of weeks on two of the main positions in contemporary normative ethics, Consequentialism and Contractualism. With all this in mind, we turn in the final week to contemporary metaethics, and the question of Moral Realism. I will at some point provide essay questions and readings for some OTHER TOPICS too, which students may wish to pursue in their own time.

I’ve had advice from various friends in putting together this reading list and its previous incarnation, and am particularly grateful to Chris Jay, Nadine Elzein, Stefan Sienkiewicz, Tom Sinclair, and Ed Lamb. If you’re teaching a similar course, and want to make use of it at all, as occasional emails suggest some people do, please feel free.

TUTORIAL TOPICS

  1. Why Be Moral?
  2. Hume’s Ethics
  3. Kant I: Duty
  4. Kant II: Universalizability
  5. Free Will and Moral Responsibility
  6. Consequentialism
  7. Contractualism
  8. Moral Realism

OTHER TOPICS

Coming soon.

ANTHOLOGIES and TEXTBOOKS

There are no set texts for this paper, but we will mainly be focusing on early modern debates, and particularly on Hume and Kant. The key works are Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature (1738/1740) and Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785). You should pick up copies of these and read them beforehand. (Any scholarly edition of each will do. I have the Oxford Philosophical Texts edition of the Hume and the Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy edition of the Kant.) The order and choice of topics is loosely based on David Wiggins’ excellent Ethics: Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality (Penguin, 2006). Chapters of this are suggested in connection with certain topics below, and you might find it helpful to read it through in looking back over the material for revision.

For more introductory discussion, suitable for reading over the vacation beforehand, try either of the following, which I refer to below as Darwall and Driver respectively:

Stephen Darwall (1998) Philosophical Ethics (Westview Press), esp. Part 3.

Julia Driver (2006) Ethics: The Fundamentals (Blackwell).

Many of the individual readings can be found in these anthologies, referred to below as Raphael, SL, and Sher respectively:

D. D. Raphael, ed. (1969) British Moralists, 1650-1800, Vols. I and II (OUP).

Russ Shafer-Landau, ed. (2012) Ethical Theory: An Anthology, 2nd ed. (Wiley-Blackwell).

George Sher (2012) Ethics: The Essential Readings (Routledge).

Useful collections of commissioned articles include these, referred to below as Copp, LF&P, and Singer respectively:

David Copp, ed. (2006) The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory (OUP).

Hugh LaFollette and Ingmar Persson, eds. (2013) The Blackwell Guide to Ethical Theory, 2nd ed. (Blackwell).

Peter Singer, ed. (1993) A Companion to Ethics (Blackwell).

TUTORIAL TOPICS

1. WHY BE MORAL?

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

Why should I be moral?

CORE READING

*John Deigh (2010) An Introduction to Ethics (Cambridge UP), Ch. 1 and 2.

Plato (c. 380 BC) Republic, Bk II, 357a-367e. Various editions, inc. G. M. A. Grube's translation, revised by C. D. C. Reeve (Hackett, 1992). Selections reprinted in SL and Sher.

Thomas Hobbes (1651) Leviathan, Ch. 13-15. Various editions, inc. Revised Student Edition, edited by Richard Tuck (Cambridge UP, 1996). Selections reprinted in Raphael and Sher.

H. A. Prichard (1912) 'Does Moral Philosophy Rest on a Mistake?' in Mind 21(81), pp. 21-37. Reprinted in his (1949) Moral Obligation (OUP).

If time permits, also have a look at:

Philippa Foot (1972) 'Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives' in The Philosophical Review 81(3), pp. 305–316. Reprinted in her (2002) Virtues and Vices and Other Essays (OUP), SL, Sher, and Stephen Darwall, Allan Gibbard, and Peter Railton, eds. (1997) Moral Discourse and Practice: Some Philosophical Approaches (OUP).

You’ll find some useful, albeit brief, discussion of Foot (1972) in the introductions to Part I of SL, Section I of Sher, and Part IV of Stephen Darwall, Allan Gibbard, and Peter Railton, eds. (1997) Moral Discourse and Practice: Some Philosophical Approaches (OUP). See also §3 of John Hacker-Wright (2018) ‘Philippa Foot’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 edition): https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2018/entries/philippa-foot/.

FURTHER READING

The question why should I be moral? will remain with us over the course of the term, and you ought to reflect on how the different philosophers we’ll be looking at—Hume, Kant, consequentialists, and contractualists—might answer it. Korsgaard (1996b) is a useful guide, and an excellent place to start in looking into the topic in more depth. Lecture 1 discusses the approaches of voluntarists like Hobbes and rationalists like Prichard. Lecture 2 looks at Humean, neo-Humean, and utilitarian approaches. Lectures 3 and 4 develop a Kantian approach. Hills (2010) is another good book-length treatment of the topic, and includes discussion of Korsgaard.

Alison Hills (2010) The Beloved Self: Morality and the Challenge from Egoism (OUP).

Christine Korsgaard (1996b) The Sources of Normativity (Cambridge UP).

Various other contemporary discussions are well worth looking at too. Williams (1973) offers a neo-Humean response to the amoralist. McDowell (1978) is a response to Foot (1972). (Foot herself changed her view. See, in the first instance, the ‘Recantation’ in Stephen Darwall, Allan Gibbard, and Peter Railton, eds. (1997) Moral Discourse and Practice: Some Philosophical Approaches (OUP).) Hooker (1997) argues that various attempts to show that moral virtue constitutes a benefit to the agent fail. Raz (1999) tries to defuse arguments to the effect that morality and self-interest are opposed. For more contemporary discussion of egoism, see Elliot Sober’s paper in LF&P and Kurt Baier’s in Singer. You’ll also find various other good, relevant discussions in Part I of SL and Section I of Sher.

Brad Hooker (1998) 'Does Moral Virtue Constitute a Benefit to the Agent?' in Roger Crisp, ed. How Should One Live? (OUP).

John McDowell (1978) 'Are Moral Requirements Hypothetical Imperatives?' in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes 52, pp. 13-29. Reprinted in his (1998) Mind, Value, and Reality (Harvard UP).

Joseph Raz (1999) 'The Central Conflict: Morality and Self-Interest' in Roger Crisp and Brad Hooker, eds. Well Being and Morality: Essays in honour of James Griffin OUP). Reprinted in his (2002) Engaging Reason (OUP).

Bernard Williams (1973) 'Egoism and Altruism' in his Problems of the Self (Cambridge UP).

As I said above, the order and choice of these tutorial topics is loosely based on Wiggins (2006). Ch. 1 discusses Plato, but also introduces the central questions we’ll be asking, concerning the status and content of morality.

David Wiggins (2006) Ethics: Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality (Penguin), Ch. 1.

FURTHER FURTHER READING

I set Hobbes and Prichard as core reading this week partly to introduce you to an extended debate among British philosophers over the foundations of morality. Hobbes can be thought of as making the first contribution to this debate, and his views were often a target for subsequent writers. His voluntarism, the view that morality depends on the will of an authority, was criticised by moral rationalists, such as Samuel Clarke and William Wollaston. Prichard, though he was writing much later than Clarke and Wollaston, belongs to the same rationalist tradition. A third camp, the so-called moral sense theorists such as the Earl of Shaftesbury, Francis Hutcheson, and David Hume, criticised both moral rationalism and the egoism that they took Hobbes to endorse—though it was a populariser of Hobbes’ ideas, Bernard Mandeville, that was as often as not the focus of their attacks. In this latter task they were joined by Joseph Butler, the bishop of Durham, who stood midway between rationalism and moral sentimentalism. We’ll look at Hume’s attack on rationalism, as well as his moral sentimentalism, next week, but you might find it helpful in thinking about this week’s topic to look more closely at these early modern debates. You can find the primary sources in Raphael, but Mackie (1980) is probably the best place to start. Beyond that, you will find good introductory discussion of Hobbes in Darwall, and an excellent discussion of Joseph Butler in Ralph Wedgwood’s contribution to Bloomfield (2008), which contains various other useful papers on this week’s topic.

Paul Bloomfield, ed. (2008) Morality and Self-Interest (OUP).

*J. L. Mackie (1980) Hume's Moral Theory (Routledge), Ch. II.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

How much turns on the possibility of persuading the amoralist to be moral? (2016)

‘[I]n all ingenuous natures, the antipathy to treachery and roguery is too strong to be counter-balanced by any views of profit or pecuniary advantage. Inward peace of mind, consciousness of integrity, a satisfactory review of our own conduct; these are circumstances, very requisite to happiness, and will be cherished and cultivated by every honest man, who feels the importance of them.’ (HUME) How good a response is this to the amoralist? (2015)

What is the best response to the amoralist? (2014)

Are moral considerations always overriding? (2013)

2. HUME’S ETHICS

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

What does Hume mean when he says that moral distinctions are not derived from reason? Is he right? Is his alternative, sentimentalist account of moral assessment a compelling one?

CORE READING

*Rachel Cohon (2004/18) 'Hume's Moral Philosophy' in Edward Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 edition): https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2018/entries/hume-moral/.

David Hume (1739/1740) A Treatise of Human Nature, Bk. 2, Pt. 3, § 3, 'Of the Influencing Motives of the Will', and Bk. 3, 'Of Morals', especially: Pt. 1; Pt. 2, §§ 1 and 2; and Pt. 3, §§ 1 and 6. Various editions, inc. Oxford Philosophical Texts edition, ed. by David Fate Norton and Mary J. Norton (OUP, 2000). Reprinted in Raphael.

The important thing this week is to get a sense of the primary reading, and I would rather you focused on that, using Cohon’s article as a guide to the issues. But if you want to look at some of the secondary literature, start with:

*J. L. Mackie (1980) Hume's Moral Theory (Routledge), esp. Ch. III to VII.

If you plan on studying Hume’s ethics in depth, Mackie’s book is essential reading. It’s intended as an introduction to some of the main problems of moral philosophy, rather than as a contribution to Hume scholarship, but it’s an excellent way into Hume’s ethics, as well as the early modern debates that began with Thomas Hobbes.

FURTHER READING

If you decide to pursue this topic further, the main issues to think about are (a) Hume’s account of motivation, and his criticisms of moral rationalism; (b) the role of sympathy and the common point of view in his account of moral judgement; and (c) his account of justice and promise keeping. While Hume’s Treatise is the main primary text, you should also look at the later An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, in which Hume presents things rather differently. (Among other things, this is where Hume’s criticisms of egoism are to be found. See especially Appendix 2.) You should also look at certain of his essays—particularly ‘The Sceptic’ and ‘Of the Standard of Taste’.

David Hume (1751/77) An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. Various editions, inc. Oxford Philosophical Texts, ed. by Tom L. Beauchamp (OUP, 1998). Reprinted in Raphael.

— (1777) Essays: Moral, Political, Literary, Part 1. Various editions, inc. Selected Essays, ed. by Stephen Copley and Andrew Edgar (OUP, 2008).

Turning to the secondary literature, Radcliffe (2008) is an extremely useful collection, containing a range of excellent introductory articles. Of particular relevance are the papers by Tito Magri, Charlotte R. Brown, Kate Abramson, and Eugenio Lecaldano, and the articles by Elizabeth S. Radcliffe, Tom L. Beauchamp, and Nicholas L. Sturgeon will also be useful. These all provide suggestions for further reading, many of which are reprinted in Cohon (2001).

Rachel Cohon, ed. (2001) Hume: Moral and Political Philosophy (Ashgate).

*Elizabeth S. Radcliffe, ed. (2008) A Companion to Hume (Blackwell).

Baillie (2000) is a good book-length introduction to Hume’s ethics. Cohon (2008) is more advanced, but a great corrective to various interpretative misunderstandings. Looking ahead to the next few weeks, Rawls (2000) and Wiggins (2006) are especially useful, discussing Hume’s ethics with the aim of contrasting them with Kant’s.

*James Baillie (2000) Hume on Morality (Routledge)

Rachel Cohon (2008) Hume's Morality: Feeling and Fabrication (OUP).

John Rawls (2000) Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy, ed. by Barbara Herman (Harvard UP), Hume I-V.

David Wiggins (2006) Ethics: Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality (Penguin), Ch. 2 and 3.

FURTHER FURTHER READING

You might want to look into the contemporary literature on the meta-ethical issues arising out of Hume’s ethics. If so, try Peter Railton’s paper in Copp as well as Korsgaard (1986), Quinn (1993), Bricke (1996), and Dreier (1997).

John Bricke (1996) Mind and Morality: An Examination of Hume's Moral Psychology (OUP).

Jamie Dreier (1997) 'Humean Doubts about the Practical Justification of Morality' in Garrett Cullity and Berys Gaut, eds. Ethics and Practical Reason (OUP).

Christine Korsgaard (1986) ‘Skepticism about Practical Reason’ in Journal of Philosophy 83(1), pp. 5-25. Reprinted in her (1996a) Creating the Kingdom of Ends (Cambridge UP).

Warren Quinn (1993) ‘Putting Rationality in its Place’ in Raymond Frey and Christopher Morris, eds. Value, Welfare and Morality (Cambridge UP). Reprinted in his (1993) Morality and Action (Cambridge UP).

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

EITHER
(a) Can it be rational to want to be unhappy?
OR
(b) Are there any states of affairs I cannot rationally will to obtain? (2017)

Can Hume’s sentimentalism adequately account for the normativity of moral assessment? (2016)

EITHER
(a) ‘Since morals have an influence on the actions and affections, it follows that they cannot be derived from reason… Reason of itself is utterly impotent in this particular. The rules of morality, therefore, are not conclusions of our reason.’ (HUME) Discuss.
OR
(b) ‘It is no more puzzling that beliefs alone can motivate us than that desires alone can – it is merely less common that they do.’ Is that so? (2014)

‘Hume can explain why benevolence is a virtue but not why justice is.’ Discuss. (2013)

3. KANT I: DUTY

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

How, in Kant’s view, must an action be motivated in order for it to have “moral worth”? Is he right?

CORE READING

*Stephen Darwall (1998) Philosophical Ethics (Westview Press), Ch. 14: Kant I.

Immanuel Kant (1785) Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Preface and § I. Various editions, inc. Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy edition, trans. by Mary Gregor (Cambridge UP, 1998).

Barbara Herman (1993) The Practice of Moral Judgement (Harvard UP), Ch. 1, which is a revised version of her (1981) 'On the Value of Acting from the Motive of Duty' in The Philosophical Review 90(3), pp. 359–382.

Christine Korsgaard (1989a) 'Kant's Analysis of Obligation: The Argument of Foundations I' in The Monist 72(3), pp. 311-340. Reprinted as Ch. 2 of her (1996a) Creating the Kingdom of Ends (Cambridge UP).

FURTHER READING

Kant is not an easy read, and even the relatively short Groundwork is best approached over several tutorials. Allen Wood, a leading interpreter of Kant, has said that the first fifty times he read it he didn’t understand it at all! We will look at Section I this week, and a central feature of Section II the next. Good overviews of Kant’s ethics include Thomas Hill Jr.’s article in LF&P, Onora O’Neill’s in Singer, J. David Velleman’s in Sher, Ch. 5 of Driver, and:

*Jerome B. Schneewind (1992) 'Autonomy, Obligation, and Virtue: An Overview of Kant's Moral Philosophy' in Paul Guyer, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Kant (Cambridge UP).

The following collection also contains introductory articles focused on particular aspects of Kant’s ethics; the article by Philip Stratton-Lake is especially helpful in connection with this week’s topic.

*Graham Bird, ed. (2007) A Companion to Kant (Blackwell).

Part I of Baron (1995) addresses the worry—raised by Wolf (1982) (pardon the pun)—that Kant’s emphasis on duty leaves no room for supererogatory actions, actions that go beyond the call of duty. Part II addresses the worry—raised by Stocker (1976) and Williams (1976)—that it leaves no room for motives like love and friendship. Arpaly (2003), discussing the case of Huckleberry Finn, argues that moral worth is a matter of acting for moral reasons, regardless of whether or not the agent recognises them as such. Sliwa (2016) is a recent response to this view.

Nomy Arpaly (2003) Unprincipled Virtue: An Inquiry into Moral Agency (OUP), Ch. 3, which appears in a shorter form as her (2002) 'Moral Worth' in Journal of Philosophy 99(5), pp. 223–245.

Marcia Baron (1995) Kantian Ethics Almost without Apology (Cornell UP), esp. Ch. 4, which is a revised version of her (1984) 'The Alleged Moral Repugnance of Acting from Duty' in Journal of Philosophy 81(4), pp. 197–220.

Paulina Sliwa (2016) 'Moral Worth and Moral Knowledge' in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93(2), pp. 393–418.

Michael Stocker (1976) 'The Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories' in Journal of Philosophy 73(14), pp. 453–466. Reprinted in Roger Crisp and Michael Slote, eds. (1997) Virtue Ethics (OUP).

Bernard Williams (1976) 'Persons, Character, and Morality' in Alice O. Rorty, ed. The Identity of Persons (University of California Press). Reprinted in his (1981) Moral Luck (Cambridge UP) and in Sher.

Susan Wolf (1982) 'Moral Saints' in Journal of Philosophy 79(8), pp. 419-39. Reprinted in Roger Crisp and Michael Slote, eds. (1997) Virtue Ethics (OUP), as well as SL and Sher.

The 1970s and 80s saw a resurgence of interest in Kant’s ethics, largely due to the work of John Rawls and his students, Herman, Korsgaard, and O’Neill. Rawls’ Harvard lectures on Kant’s ethics can be found in his (2000) book, which I also recommended as Further Reading on Hume’s ethics last week. Kant I is the lecture of most relevance to this week’s topic, and Kant II to next week’s, but all of his lectures on Kant are recommended.

John Rawls (2000) Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy, ed. by Barbara Herman (Harvard UP).

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

EITHER
(a) ‘Even if the Categorical Imperative gets the moral prescriptions right, Kant doesn’t have a satisfactory account of why these are the prescriptions.’ Discuss.
OR
(b) ‘Acting from duty seems to me to be crucial to morally good conduct.’ (MARCIA BARON) Is it? (2016)

Is a desire to do the right thing, simply because it is right, fetishistic in any objectionable sense? (2015)

What does Kant mean by the claim that it is impossible to conceive of anything which is good without qualification except a good will? Is he right? (2014)

EITHER
(a) Could I rationally will it to be a universal law that no one ever helps anyone else?
OR
(b) Is moral worth specially related to the motive of duty? (2013)

4. KANT II: UNIVERSALIZABILITY

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

What is the relationship between subsidiary moral principles (such as prohibitions on lying and suicide) and the “universal law” version of Kant’s categorical imperative? In particular, can the former soundly be derived from the latter? If they cannot, what implications does this have for Kant’s moral philosophy?

CORE READING

*Stephen Darwall (1998) Philosophical Ethics (Westview Press), Ch. 15: Kant II.

Immanuel Kant (1785) Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, §§ I and II. Various editions, inc. Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy edition, trans. by Mary Gregor (Cambridge UP, 1998).

Christine Korsgaard (1985) 'Kant's Formula of Universal Law' in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 66(1-2), pp. 24-47. Reprinted as Ch. 3 of her (1996a) Creating the Kingdom of Ends (Cambridge UP) and in SL.

Derek Parfit (2011) On What Matters (OUP), Vol. 1, Ch. 12.

FURTHER READING

See last week’s Further Reading for overviews of Kant’s ethics. Good introductory pieces to look at in connection with this topic include Thomas Hill Jr.’s contribution to Copp, and Richard Galvin’s contribution to Hill Jr. (2009):

*Thomas Hill Jr., ed. (2009) The Blackwell Guide to Kant's Ethics (Blackwell).

O’Neill (1985) and Herman (1985) are two influential pieces on universalizability. O’Neill argues that, properly understood, Kantian universalization yields substantive constraints on action, while Herman argues its use in moral deliberation presupposes knowledge of rules that guide the agent in the perception of morally relevant features of the circumstances in which the agent acts, and goes on to argue that this helps address various criticisms that have been pressed against Kantian approaches. Wood (1999) is a lively attempt to undermine what Wood takes to be the caricature of Kant as a rule fetishist offering a system that amounts to little more than an “ethical sausage-machine” for outputting right actions. Ch. 3 focuses on the Formula of Universal Law, arguing that Kant’s other formulations of the Categorical Imperative play a more fundamental role in his thinking, and discussing Herman, Korsgaard, and O’Neill in the process. Kleingeld (2017) is a more recent piece, stressing the significance of the fact that the Formula of Universal Law requires one to act on maxims that one can simultaneously will as universal laws.

Barbara Herman (1985) 'The Practice of Moral Judgement' in Journal of Philosophy 82(8), pp. 414-36. Reprinted as Ch. 4 of her (1993) The Practice of Moral Judgement (Harvard UP).

Pauline Kleingeld (2017) 'Contradiction and Kant’s Formula of Universal Law' in Kant-Studien 108(1), pp. 89–115.

Onora O'Neill (1985) 'Consistency in Action' in Nelson Potter and Mark Timmons, eds. Universality and Morality (Reidel), pp. 159-86. Reprinted as Ch. 5 of her (1989) Constructions of Reason (Cambridge UP).

Allen W. Wood (1999) Kant's Ethical Thought (Cambridge UP), Ch. 3.

You’ll find the rest of both Part One of Korsgaard (1996a) and Part I of Wood (1999)—as well as the Kant lectures in Rawls (2000), suggested in last week’s Further Reading—helpful in thinking about Kant’s other formulations of the Categorical Imperative, the Formula of Humanity as End-in-Itself and the Formula of Autonomy. Other good pieces on universalizability, as it figures either in Kant or in ethics more generally, include Mackie (1977), Williams (1985), and Wiggins (1987). Wiggins (2006) is the text on which our choice of topics is based, and Ch. 4 focuses on Kant.

Christine Korsgaard (1996a) Creating the Kingdom of Ends (Cambridge UP), Part One.

J. L. Mackie (1977) Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (Penguin), Ch. 4.

Bernard Williams (1985/2006) Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Routledge), Ch. 4.

David Wiggins (1987) 'Universalizability, Impartiality, Truth' in his (2002) Needs, Values, Truth, 3rd edition (OUP).

— (2006) Ethics: Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality (Penguin), Ch. 4.

Allen W. Wood (1999) Kant's Ethical Thought (Cambridge UP), Part I.

FURTHER FURTHER READING

You might want to think about Section III of the Groundwork. It’s notoriously difficult, and there’s no need to work on it, but it’s where you’ll find Kant’s answer to the question, why should I be moral?, so it will help if you’re thinking about Week 1’s topic in more detail. It also raises questions about Kant’s conception of free will, so will help with next week’s too. And even if you’re not pursuing either of those topics any further, if you’re working on either last week’s or this week’s topic in more depth, it will obviously be helpful to have a good understanding of how the whole text works. There’s some introductory discussion—within the context of a more general discussion of the question, why be moral?—of what’s often taken to be Kant’s strategy, and its failings, in Singer (2011). Allison (1990) also discusses its failings, and argues that Kant had something better to offer. Also see Hill Jr. (1989), Korsgaard (1989b), O’Neill (1989), and Korsgaard (1996b)—which I also suggested as Further Reading for Week 1.

*Peter Singer (2011) Practical Ethics, 3rd edition (Cambridge UP), Ch. 12.

Immanuel Kant (1785) Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, § III. Various editions, inc. Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy edition, trans. by Mary Gregor (Cambridge UP, 1998).

Henry Allison (1990) Kant's Theory of Freedom (Cambridge UP), Ch. 11 and 12. Ch. 11 is a revised version of his (1986) 'Morality and Freedom: Kant's Reciprocity Thesis' in The Philosophical Review 95(3), pp. 393-425.

Thomas Hill, Jr. (1989) 'The Kantian Conception of Autonomy' in John Philip Christman, ed. The Inner Citadel (OUP). Reprinted in his (1992) Dignity and Practical Reason in Kant's Moral Theory (Cornell UP).

Christine Korsgaard (1989b) 'Morality as Freedom' in Yirmiyahu Yovel, ed. Kant's Practical Philosophy Reconsidered (Kluwer), pp. 23-48. Reprinted as Ch. 6 of her (1996a) Creating the Kingdom of Ends (Cambridge UP).

— (1996b) The Sources of Normativity (Cambridge UP), Ch. 3 and 4. Reprinted as 'The Authority of Norms' in Sher.

Onora O'Neill (1989) 'Reason and Autonomy in Grundlegung I' in Otfried Höffe, ed. Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten (Vittorio Klostermann). Reprinted as Ch. 3 of her (1989) Constructions of Reason (Cambridge UP).

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

EITHER
(a) Can it be rational to want to be unhappy?
OR
(b) Are there any states of affairs I cannot rationally will to obtain? (2017)

EITHER
(a) ‘Even if the Categorical Imperative gets the moral prescriptions right, Kant doesn’t have a satisfactory account of why these are the prescriptions.’ Discuss.
OR
(b) ‘Acting from duty seems to me to be crucial to morally good conduct.’ (MARCIA BARON) Is it? (2016)

How much of a problem is it for Kant’s argument in the Groundwork that a person can intend an action under a variety of different descriptions? (2015)

EITHER
(a) Could I rationally will it to be a universal law that no one ever helps anyone else?
OR
(b) Is moral worth specially related to the motive of duty? (2013)

5. FREE WILL and MORAL RESPONSIBILITY

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

Is determinism compatible with our being able to do otherwise when we act? If not, what are the implications for the question whether we are ever morally responsible for our actions?

CORE READING

*Michael McKenna and D. Justin Coates (2004/15) 'Compatibilism' in Edward Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 edition): https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2018/entries/compatibilism/

Peter van Inwagen (1975) 'The Incompatibility of Free Will and Determinism' in Philosophical Studies 27(3), pp. 185-99. Reprinted in Gary Watson, ed. Free Will, 2nd edition (OUP), which I refer to as Watson below.

Peter F. Strawson (1962) 'Freedom and Resentment' in Proceedings of the British Academy 48, pp. 1–25. Reprinted in his (2008) Freedom and Resentment and Other Essays (Routledge), Sher, SL, and Watson.

Harry Frankfurt (1969) 'Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility' in Journal of Philosophy 66(23), pp. 828–839. Reprinted in his (1998) The Importance of What We Care About (Cambridge UP) and Watson.

FURTHER READING

The further literature on this week’s topic is vast. With that, however, there is also a mass of introductory literature. You’ll find very brief introductions to the relevant sections of SL and Sher; John Martin Fischer’s piece in Copp is more detailed, focused mainly on van Inwagen (1975) and Frankfurt (1969); Gary Watson’s ‘Introduction’ to Watson is extremely helpful, offering a great overview of the issues; and you’ll find several useful entries in the Stanford Encyclopedia—the Related Entries section of McKenna and Coates (2004/15), listed above, provides links. If you want a good book on the topic, aimed at advanced undergraduates, then try McKenna and Pereboom (2016).

*Michael McKenna and Derk Pereboom (2016) Free Will: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge).

In pursuing the topic in depth, you’ll want to think a bit more about van Inwagen’s consequence argument. The main thing to look at here is Lewis (1981), to which van Inwagen responds in his (2004). You’ll also want to think a bit more about Frankfurt’s challenge to the Principle of Alternate Possibilities and Peter Strawson’s account of moral responsibility in terms of reactive attitudes. To that end, Widerker and McKenna (2006) and McKenna and Russell (2008) are useful collections of articles, the former focused on Frankfurt and the latter on Strawson. But the main thing to do is familiarise yourself with contemporary libertarian, compatibilist, and sceptical approaches to free will and moral responsibility. See, in the first place, Chisholm (1964), Frankfurt (1971), Wolf (1987), and Strawson (1994). Then go on and look at the other papers in Watson, using the introductory literature above as your guide.

Roderick Chisholm (1964) 'Human Freedom and the Self', The Lindley Lecture, The Department of Philosophy, University of Kansas. Reprinted in Watson.

Harry Frankfurt (1971) 'Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person' in Journal of Philosophy 68(1), pp. 5–20. Reprinted in his (1998) The Importance of What We Care About (Cambridge UP), Sher, and Watson.

David Lewis (1981) 'Are We Free to Break the Laws?' in Theoria 47(3), pp. 113–21. Reprinted in his (1987) Philosophical Papers, Volume 2 (OUP) and Watson.

Peter van Inwagen (2004) 'Freedom to Break the Laws' in Midwest Studies In Philosophy 28, pp. 334-350. Reprinted in his (2017) Thinking about Free Will (OUP).

Michael McKenna and Paul Russell, eds. (2008) Free Will and Reactive Attitudes: Perspectives on P. F. Strawson’s “Freedom and Resentment” (Ashgate).

Galen Strawson (1994) 'The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility' in Philosophical Studies 75(1), pp. 5–24. Reprinted as Ch. 13 of his (2008) Real Materialism (OUP) as well as in SL and Watson.

David Widerker and Michael McKenna, eds. (2006) Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities: Essays on the Importance of Alternative Possibilities (Ashgate).

Susan Wolf (1987) 'Sanity and the Metaphysics of Responsibility' in Ferdinand Schoeman, ed. Responsibility, Character, and the Emotions: New Essays in Moral Psychology (Cambridge UP). Reprinted in SL and Watson.

FURTHER FURTHER READING

This week’s topic serves as a bridge between the first four weeks, where we looked at Hume and Kant, and the question of the status of morality was more prominent, and the next two weeks, where we’ll look at some issues in contemporary normative ethics, and the question of the content of morality will come to the fore. For on the one hand, questions concerning the metaphysics of free will lie at the heart of the debate between Hume and Kant. On the other hand, questions concerning the nature of moral responsibility lie at the heart of the debate between consequentialists and their opponents. You might want to think about these issues. For the debate between Hume and Kant, see the next chapter in the story as told by Wiggins (2006). For the connection with debates between consequentialists and their opponents, see Ingmar Persson’s contribution to LF&P. Past papers sometimes contain questions on moral luck, a topic which also relates to Kant. If you’re interested in pursuing this topic, start with the debate between Bernard Williams (1976) and Tom Nagel (1976). Nelkin (2004/13) is a survey of subsequent work.

Thomas Nagel (1976) 'Moral Luck' in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes 50, pp. 137-51. Reprinted in his Mortal Questions (Cambridge UP). Reprinted in Sher and SL.

*Dana Nelkin (2004/13) 'Moral Luck' in Edward Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 edition): https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2018/entries/moral-luck.

David Wiggins (2006) Ethics: Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality (Penguin), Ch. 5.

Bernard Williams (1976) 'Moral Luck' in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes 50, pp. 115-135. Reprinted in his Moral Luck (Cambridge UP).

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

‘We don’t need to be free; it’s enough that we can’t help regarding ourselves as free.’ Is that so? (2017)

‘The problem of free will has been misrepresented insofar as it has been thought to be a purely metaphysical problem.’ (SUSAN WOLF) Discuss. (2016)

How free does the will need to be? (2015)

‘If an act can be ascribed to a person’s will, then that person is responsible for that act. Whether their will was free or not is irrelevant.’ Discuss. (2014)

6. CONSEQUENTIALISM

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

Does consequentialism conflict with common-sense morality? If so, is it a decisive objection to consequentialism that it does?

CORE READING

*Samuel Scheffler (1988) 'Introduction' to Samuel Scheffler, ed. Consequentialism and its Critics (OUP), pp. 1-13. I refer to this collection as Scheffler below.

Peter Singer (1972) 'Famine, Affluence, and Morality' in Philosophy & Public Affairs 1(3), pp. 229-43. Reprinted in both Sher and SL.

Bernard Williams (1973) 'A Critique of Utilitarianism' in J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams Utilitarianism: For and Against (Cambridge UP), esp. §§3-5. Reprinted in Scheffler (as 'Consequentialism and Integrity') and Sher.

Samuel Scheffler (1982) The Rejection of Consequentialism: A Philosophical Investigation of the Considerations Underlying Rival Moral Conceptions (OUP), pp. 1-22 and, if you have time, pp. 55-70.

Peter Railton (1984) ‘Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality’ in Philosophy & Public Affairs 13(2), pp. 134–171. Reprinted in his (2003) Facts, Values, and Norms (Cambridge UP), Scheffler, Sher, and SL.

FURTHER READING

Many of you will be familiar with consequentialism from your first year study of Mill’s Utilitarianism, but in case you aren’t, there are various introductory pieces that will help you get up to speed. See, for example, the chapters on Mill in Darwall, chapters 3 and 4 of Driver, Pettit’s contribution to Singer, Brink’s to Copp, and the following:

*Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (2003/15) 'Consequentialism' in Edward Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 edition): https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2018/entries/consequentialism/.

In working on this topic in more depth, you’ll want to get a sense of the range of objections that have been pressed against consequentialism. The Core Reading focuses on the objection that it is too demanding, requiring agents to devote their resources to performing actions that, however admirable, are not intuitively obligatory, and that leave them with no time or energy for their own interests, as well as the related objection that it alienates agents from the projects and purposes that provide their lives with the sort of integrity, or unity, that, in Bernard Williams’ view, makes agency possible in the first place. Other influential objections include that of Rawls (1971), who argues that, in ignoring questions of distribution across different people’s lives, consequentialism ignores the separateness of persons, as well as those of deontologists, such as Thomson (1985), who argue that consequentialism is too permissive, allowing—and, indeed, requiring—agents to perform actions that common-sense morality forbids.

John Rawls (1971) A Theory of Justice (Harvard UP), §5, 'Classical Utilitarianism'. Reprinted in Scheffler and Sher.

Judith Jarvis Thomson (1985) 'The Trolley Problem' in The Yale Law Journal 94(6), pp. 1395-1415.

Your main task will be to get a handle on how consequentialists have responded, especially to the demandingness objection. One strategy is to argue that it is not unreasonable for a morality to make the sorts of extreme demands that consequentialism is alleged to make. This is the strategy pursued by Singer (1972) in the Core Reading. It’s also the strategy pursued by Kagan (1989), a particularly influential book, which is well worth prioritising in further study of this week’s topic. And Ashford (2000) pursues a similar line in response to Williams’ integrity objection. §2.1 of Mulgan (2001) critically discusses this strategy, which, following Kagan, he calls extremism. Cullity (1994) is a response to Singer (1972). Another strategy is to deny that consequentialism gives rise to extreme demands in the first place. Jackson (1991) is an influential attempt to pursue this strategy, arguing that, since we can be more certain of maximizing utility if we focus our efforts on those closest to us, consequentialism does not require us to make the sorts of great personal sacrifice that its opponents sometimes claim. See §2.2 of Mulgan (2001) for critical discussion. Perhaps the most common strategy, however, is to argue that potential conflict with common-sense morality can be addressed by some variant of consequentialism. Scheffler (1982) and Railton (1984), in the Core Reading, are instances of this strategy, arguing that conflicts can be addressed by, respectively, hybrid or indirect forms of consequentialism. Kagan (1989) discusses Scheffler (see esp. Ch. 1 and 7), while Mason (1998) defends Railton. Hooker’s contribution to LF&P pursues this strategy too, arguing that rule-consequentialism addresses the worry, while Norcross (2006) argues for a radical, scalar approach. For critical discussion of the strategy, see Mulgan (2001), starting with §2.3. Sobel (2007) takes a different line altogether, arguing that the demandingness objection depends for its force on prior non-consequentialist conclusions that need to be independently motivated.

Elizabeth Ashford (2000) 'Utilitarianism, Integrity, and Partiality' in Journal of Philosophy 97(8), pp. 421-39.

Garrett Cullity (1994) 'International Aid and the Scope of Kindness' in Ethics 105(1), pp. 99–127.

Frank Jackson (1991) 'Decision-Theoretic Consequentialism and the Nearest and Dearest Objection' in Ethics 101(3), pp. 461-82.

Shelly Kagan (1989) The Limits of Morality (OUP).

Elinor Mason (1998) 'Can an Indirect Consequentialist Be a Real Friend?' in Ethics 108(2), pp. 386-93.

Tim Mulgan (2001) The Demands of Consequentialism (OUP), esp. Ch. 1 and 2.

Alistair Norcross (2006) 'The Scalar Approach to Utilitarianism' in Henry West, ed. The Blackwell Guide to Mill’s Utilitarianism (Blackwell), pp. 217-32.

David Sobel (2007) 'The Impotence of the Demandingness Objection' in Philosophers' Imprint 7(8), pp. 1-17.

FURTHER FURTHER READING

While you may already be familiar with Mill’s contribution to consequentialist thought, you might want to look at the contributions of others, such as Jeremy Bentham, Henry Sidgwick, G. E. Moore, and R. M. Hare. Sidgwick (1907) is especially relevant to this week’s essay topic, discussing the relationship between utilitarianism and common-sense morality at length. It’s also of particular relevance if you’re thinking about consequentialist treatments of Week 1’s topic, the question, why should I be moral? For discussion of Sidgwick’s views on this week’s topic, see Lazari-Radek and Singer (2014), especially Ch. 5, 10, and 11. For discussion of his views on the question, why should I be moral?, see Parfit (2011) and Ch. 6 of Lazari-Radek and Singer (2014). Wiggins (2006) continues the narrative of the course, critically assessing various arguments for consequentialism, including arguments from Hare and Scheffler.

Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer (2014) The Point of View of the Universe (OUP).

Derek Parfit (2011) On What Matters (OUP), Vol. 1, Ch. 6.

Henry Sidgwick (1907) The Methods of Ethics, 7th edition (Macmillan).

David Wiggins (2006) Ethics: Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality (Penguin), Ch. 6 to 8.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

EITHER
(a) Is satisficing consequentialism an adequate response to the worry that maximising consequentialism is too demanding?
OR
(b) How much of a problem is it that we can’t foresee all the consequences of our actions? (2017)

Does act-consequentialism better approximate the demands of beneficence than common-sense morality? (2016)

EITHER
(a) Can a consequentialist make sense of the idea that I should be more concerned with my wrongdoings than with yours? Does she need to?
OR
(b) Suppose that Charity A and Charity B avert the same number of deaths per unit of money donated, but that Charity A works by campaigning for peace while Charity B works by immunising against life-threatening diseases. If killing were worse than letting die, would this ground any case for donating to Charity A rather than Charity B? (2015)

EITHER
(a) ‘Consequentialism is impossibly demanding. So it cannot be correct.’ Discuss.
OR
(b) ‘Since a deontologist can always hold that rule-breakings are intrinsically bad, there is no serious question over whether consequentialism is true – the question is only which consequences are important.’ Is that so? (2014)

7. CONTRACTUALISM

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

Does Scanlon’s contractualism provide a compelling account of moral wrongness?

CORE READING

*Nicholas Southwood (2009) 'Moral Contractualism' in Philosophy Compass 4(6), pp. 926–937.

T. M. Scanlon (1998) What We Owe to Each Other (Harvard UP), Ch. 4 and 5.

Elizabeth Ashford (2003) 'The Demandingness of Scanlon's Contractualism' in Ethics 113(2), pp. 273-302.

Derek Parfit (2003) 'Justifiability to Each Person' in Ratio 16(4), pp. 368-90. Reprinted in Phillip Stratton-Lake, ed. (2004) On What We Owe to Each Other (Blackwell), which I refer to below as Stratton-Lake. Note that p. 381 contains a misprint. The numbers for Case 2 should be 100, 100; 100, 90; and 0, 100.

If you have time, also try:

R. Jay Wallace (2002) 'Scanlon’s Contractualism' in Ethics 112(3), pp. 429–470. You can safely skim §§I and II.

FURTHER READING

There’s rather less by way of introductory reading for this week’s topic but, in addition to Southwood (2009), try Phillip Stratton-Lake’s ‘Introduction’ to Stratton-Lake and this article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

*Elizabeth Ashford and Tim Mulgan (2007/18) 'Contractualism' in Edward Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 edition): https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2018/entries/contractualism/.

In pursuing this topic in more depth, start by getting clear on what exactly the view is. It’s useful here to think about the objection that Scanlon’s contractualism is explanatorily redundant. Stratton-Lake (2003) explains why initial formulations of this objection were based on a misunderstanding, argues that the objection nevertheless re-emerges, and then goes on to offer a solution. Read that, and then read Ridge (2003), which argues that Scanlon cannot avail himself of Stratton-Lake’s solution to the “new and improved” redundancy objection without giving up some of his central commitments, but that contractualism’s not vulnerable to the objection in the first place.

Michael Ridge (2003) 'Contractualism and the New and Improved Redundancy Objection' in Analysis 63(4), pp. 337-42.

Philip Stratton-Lake (2003) ' Scanlon's Contractualism and the Redundancy Objection' in Analysis 63(1), pp. 70-6.

Next, think about the appeal of Scanlon’s contractualism, which lies in large part in its promise of accounts that are superior to those of its rivals of both the content and status of a central core of morality. The debate in the secondary literature debate has focused mainly on the contractualist account of the content of morality, and particularly on whether it offers an adequate response to worries about demandingness, aggregation, and risk. Hills (2010) is a response to Ashford’s treatment of the first question, concerning demandingness, while Scanlon (2003) includes discussion of Derek Parfit’s treatment of the second, concerning aggregation. On this issue, see also Otsuka (2006), Rahul Kumar’s contribution to Wallace, Kumar, and Freeman (2011), Parfit (2011), and Scanlon (2011), which replies to Parfit. For discussion of the the third question, concerning risk, see Frick (2015) and Horton (2017). In thinking about the topic in depth, however, you will also want to think about the contractualist account of the status of morality. In doing so, it’s helpful to think about the contrast between the way Scanlon presents his contractualism in What We Owe to Each Other and his earlier, (1982) paper. Wallace (2002), in the Core Reading, is helpful too, as are Southwood (2010) and Pamela Hieronymi’s contribution to Wallace, Kumar, and Freeman (2011).

Johann Frick (2015) 'Contractualism and Social Risk' in Philosophy & Public Affairs 43(3), pp. 175-223.

Alison Hills (2010) 'Utilitarianism, Contractualism and Demandingness' The Philosophical Quarterly 60(239), pp. 225–242.

Joe Horton (2017) 'Aggregation, Complaints, and Risk' Philosophy and Public Affairs 45(1), pp. 54-81.

Michael Otsuka (2006) 'Saving Lives, Moral Theory, and the Claims of Individuals' in Philosophy & Public Affairs 34(2), pp. 109-35.

Derek Parfit (2011) On What Matters (OUP), Vol. 1, Ch. 17, and Vol. 2, Ch. 21 to 23.

T. M. Scanlon (1982) 'Contractualism and Utilitarianism' in Amyarta Sen and Bernard Williams, eds. Utilitarianism and Beyond (Cambridge UP). Reprinted in Sher and SL.

— (2003) 'Replies' in Ratio 16(4), pp. 424-39. Reprinted in Stratton-Lake.

— (2011) 'How I am not a Kantian' in Derek Parfit's On What Matters (OUP), Vol. 2, Part Four.

Nicholas Southwood (2010) Contractualism and the Foundations of Morality (OUP), esp. Ch. 4 and 5.

R. Jay Wallace, Rahul Kumar, and Samuel Freeman, eds. (2011) Reasons and Recognition: Essays on the Philosophy of T. M. Scanlon (OUP).

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

What is the best argument for contractualism? Does it succeed? (2017)

Suppose that you can either save five innocent people or save one other innocent person, but you cannot save all six. Can a contractualist explain why you ought to save the five, all other things equal? Does she need to? (2016)

‘I can only reject a principle reasonably if I have a good reason for doing so, but those are also reasons why acting on the principle would be wrong. So contractualism is redundant.’ Discuss. (2013)

Is there any principle one could not reasonably reject? (2012)

8. MORAL REALISM

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

What is moral realism? Are there any compelling arguments for rejecting it?

CORE READING

*Geoffrey Sayre-McCord (2005/15) 'Moral Realism' in Edward Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 edition): https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2018/entries/moral-realism/.

G. E. Moore (1903) Principia Ethica (Cambridge UP), Ch. 1, 'The Subject-Matter of Ethics', §§5-13. Reprinted as 'Goodness Simple and Indefinable' in Sher and as 'The Subject-Matter of Ethics' in SL.

J. L. Mackie (1977) Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (Penguin), Ch. 1, 'The Subjectivity of Values'. Reprinted in Sher, SL, and Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, ed. (1988) Essays on Moral Realism (Cornell UP), referred to as SM below.

Gilbert Harman (1977) The Nature of Morality: An Introduction to Ethics (OUP), Ch. 1, 'Ethics and Observation'. Reprinted in Sher, SL, and SM. If you have time, also have a look at Ch. 2, 'Nihilism and Naturalism'.

FURTHER READING

You’ll find very brief introductions to this week’s topic in the relevant sections of Sher and SL, and more detailed introductions from Michael Smith in LF&P, Geoffrey Sayre-McCord in Copp, and Stephen Darwall in Part 2 of Darwall. Miller (2013) and van Roojen (2015) are book-length introductions aimed at advanced undergraduates.

*Alexander Miller (2013) Contemporary Metaethics: An Introduction, 2nd edition (Polity).

*Mark van Roojen (2015) Metaethics: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge).

Moral realism comes in either of two varieties. Put crudely, moral naturalism is the view that moral properties are natural properties, while moral non-naturalism is the view that they are non-natural properties. For a long time, Moore’s (1903) open question argument was taken to show that moral properties had to be sui generis, non-natural properties, and so to show that non-naturalism was the only option for moral realists. Yet non-natural properties seem to be metaphysically dubious, or “queer”, as Mackie put it, and it’s difficult to see how we might provide a plausible account of how we can come to know about them. Many theorists therefore chose to reject moral realism altogether. Developments in the philosophy of language and mind led to a rethink, however, and the 1980s saw a resurgence of interest in moral naturalism, largely due to the work of the so-called Cornell realists, Boyd, Brink, Railton, and Sturgeon. See Lutz and Lenman (2006/18) for an overview, and think especially about the Moral Twin Earth objection to Cornell realism. Then try Sturgeon (1985), Brink (1989), and Jackson (1998)—the last the most prominent defender of the so-called Canberra Plan. More recently, there’s been a recent resurgence of interest in non-naturalism. See Ridge (2003/14) for an overview, and think especially about the supervenience problem. Then try McDowell (1985), a classic discussion of Mackie, and Shafer-Landau (2003) and Enoch (2011), two highlights of the recent revival. For a discussion and defence of Mackie’s argument(s) from queerness, see Olson (2014).

David Brink (1989) Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics (Cambridge UP).

David Enoch (2011) Taking Morality Seriously: A Defence of Robust Realism (OUP), esp. Ch. 4 to 8.

Frank Jackson (1998) From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defence of Conceptual Analysis (OUP), Ch. 5 and 6.

*Matthew Lutz and James Lenman (2006/18) 'Moral Naturalism' in Edward Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 edition): https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2018/entries/moral-naturalism/.

John McDowell (1985) 'Values and Secondary Qualities' in Ted Honderich, ed. Morality and Objectivity (Routledge). Reprinted in his (1998) Mind, Value, and Reality (Harvard UP) and SM.

Jonas Olson (2014) Moral Error Theory: History, Critique, Defence (OUP), esp. Ch. 5 and 6.

*Michael Ridge (2003/14) 'Moral Non-Naturalism' in Edward Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 edition): https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2018/entries/moral-non-naturalism/.

Russ Shafer-Landau (2003) Moral Realism: A Defence (OUP).

Nicholas Sturgeon (1985) 'Moral Explanations' in David Copp and David Zimmerman, eds. Morality, Reason, and Truth (Rowman and Allanheld), pp. 49–78. Reprinted in Sher and SM.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

Supposing that utilitarianism is true, could we find out that utilitarianism is true in the same kind of way scientists found out that water is H2O? (2017)

‘There is no version of metaethical moral realism that can combine both metaphysical and epistemological plausibility, and so the realist project should be abandoned.’ Discuss. (2016)

‘The way the moral properties are distributed in a world cannot change without some natural properties changing. Therefore it is implausible to hold that moral properties are sui generis non-natural properties.’ Is this a good argument against non-naturalist moral realism? (2015)

EITHER
(a) How worried should a moral realist be by the fact that there is no science of ethics?
OR
(b) Are moral intuitions evidence of truth in ethics? (2014)