Friday, September 20, 2019

Readings for Ethics I (4aana002)

If you are looking for additional readings (as you should be!), you can find good overviews for most topics in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Their articles also provide you with helpful references for additional readings. The starred selections ('*') are the ones that will be the focus of discussion in seminars, but lectures will cover some material not covered in the starred readings (e.g., to provide important context, background, or critical perspective) and will not cover everything in the starred readings. The main readings are the kinds of things that you should master for the purposes of exams and/or essays. The recommended readings are recommended for anyone interested in pursuing some issue further than we can cover in lectures or seminars.

Week 1. Death

* Epicurus and Lucretius - Selections
* Robert Nozick - The Experience Machine

Week 2. Consequentialism: Foundational Issues

* John Stuart Mill - Utilitarianism Chapter 4 [It is worth reading the whole chapter, but the proof of the principle of utility should be the main focus.]
* G.E. Moore - Principia Ethica (Sections 17, 89-91, 103)
Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons
Susan Wolf

Week 3. Consequentialism: Criticisms 

* Philippa Foot, Euthanasia
* Aquinas, Of Killing (Just read 'Article 7. Whether it is lawful to kill a man in self-defense?')

Bernard Williams - Utilitarianism: For and Against

Week 4. Consequentialism: Further Critical Discussions

* Alastair Norcross, Two Dogmas of Deontology


Week 5. Kantian Ethics

* Immanuel Kant, Groundwork

Reading Week (We will not have lectures, seminars, or revision hours/office hours)

Week 6. Animals

* Immanuel Kant - Lectures on Ethics
* Alastair Norcross, Puppies, Pigs, and People

Peter Singer, "All Animals are Equal" [Good to refer to because it is a classic in the field, but the important argument is the marginal cases argument and you can find that in the Norcross reading. The Norcross reading is much more entertaining and it touches on some important questions about responsibility that we’ll discuss in the lecture.]
Carolina Sartorio, How to be Responsible for Something without Causing It. [Recommended for those interested in link between moral responsibility and causation.]
Jonathan Glover, It Makes No Difference Whether or Not I Do It. [Recommended for those interested in link between moral responsibility and causation.]
Mary Anne Warren, On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion. [Recommended for those interested in moral status.]

Week 7. Pluralism and Particularism

* W.D. Ross - The Right and the Good

Week 8. Duties of Beneficence

* Onora Nell - Lifeboat Earth

Fiona Woollard, Doing and Allowing Harm

Week 9. Abortion

* Don Marquis - Why Abortion is Immoral
* Judith Thomson - A Defence of Abortion


Week 10. Freedom and Determinism

Formative Essay Questions - Please choose one of these questions for your formative essay. The essays should focus on the specifics of particular arguments but shows a good understanding of additional readings from the module and show some signs of further research. (It would be a good idea to consult the undergraduate marking criteria before you begin your essay so that you can think about what to include (and what to omit) in order to get the kind of mark that you want.)

1. Please state and critically evaluate the strongest argument for the claim that death cannot be bad for the one who dies.

2. Should we believe that an act is right iff it promotes the greatest happiness for the greatest number? 

3. How, if it all, do the agent's intentions matter to morality?

4. Does the difference between doing something and allowing something to happen matter to morality?

5. Explain and evaluate Foot's criticisms of consequentialism.

6. Should we follow the categorical imperative when the consequences of doing so would be bad for all of us?

7. What does it mean to say that all animals are equal? What, if anything, does this claim about moral status tell us about our obligations as individual consumers concerning animals?

8. Explain and evaluate Ross's argument for pluralism.

9. Explain and evaluate Singer's argument for the claim that we ought to do what is in our power to prevent bad things from happening to others unless doing so requires us to sacrifice something of comparable moral significance.

10. The moral permissibility of abortion is determined entirely by the moral status of the foetus. Discuss. 

11. If we live in a deterministic universe, we are never responsible for our actions. Discuss.