PHI523 Problems of Philosophy: Topics in Normative Ethics, Meta-Ethics, Moral Psychology, and Moral Methodology
Fall 2009
Michael Smith
Course Materials

This seminar is intended for graduate students who have little or no background in moral philosophy. We will work through a range of contemporary papers/chapters of books in normative ethics, meta-ethics, moral psychology, and moral methodology. The reading must be done prior to each seminar. Those students who wish to receive a unit will have the option of doing a take-home exam or writing an essay.

Part 1: Normative Ethics: Consequentialism, Contractualism, Virtue Ethics

Wednesday 23 September 2009
J.J.C. Smart's "Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism"
Bernard Williams's "Integrity"

Wednesday 30 September 2009
Peter Railton "Alienation Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality"
Pettit and Smith "Global Consequentialism" (background)

Wednesday 7 October 2009
Thomas M. Scanlon What We Owe To Each Other Chapter 4
Thomas M. Scanlon What We Owe To Each Other Chapter 5
Tim Mulgan Contractualism" (background)

Wednesday 14 October 2009
Hursthouse "Normative Virtue Ethics"
Johnson "Virtue and Right"
John McDowell "Virtue and Reason" (background)

Part 2: Meta-Ethics: Realism vs Anti-Realism, Relativism vs Anti-Relativism

Wednesday 21 October 2009
Michael Smith "Realism"
Peter Railton "Moral Realism"
Michael Smith The Moral Problem Chapter 1 (background)

Wednesday 28 October 2009
Simon Blackburn "How to be an Ethical Anti-Realist"
James Dreier "Creeping Minimalism"

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Part 3: Moral Psychology: The Nature of Normative Reasons

Wednesday 18 November 2009
Gilbert Harman "Moral Relativism Defended"
Gilbert Harman "Is There A Single True Morality?"
James Dreier "Humean Doubts about the Practical Justification of Morality"

Wednesday 25 November 2009
Bernard Williams, "Internal and External Reasons"
Christine Korsgaard, "Skepticism about Practical Reason"
Michael Smith "Humeanism about Motivation" (background)

Wednesday 2 December 2009
Scanlon What We Owe To Each Other Chapter 1

Wednesday 9 December 2009
Scanlon What We Owe To Each Other Chapter 2 (NB Since we didn't get a chance to talk about Scanlon on value on Wednesday 2 December, we will spend the first half of the seminar on Wednesday 9 December doing that, and then in the second half we will switch to the moral methodology topic, and talk about Daniels and Singer.)

Part 4: Moral Methodology

Norman Daniels "Wide Reflective Equilibrium and Theory Acceptance in Ethics"
Peter Singer "Sidgwick and Reflective Equilibrium"

Wednesday 16 December 2009
John Doris and Stephen Stich "As a Matter of Fact: Empirical Perspectives on Ethics"

Suggested essay topic for those who would prefer to write an essay, rather than do a take-home exam: Explain and evaluate the line of argument put forward by Ronald Dworkin in "Objectivity and Truth: You'd Better Believe It"