Two “Introduction to Ethics” Reading Lists for Syllabi Construction

Below are partial reading lists for two Introduction to Ethics courses that are based on readings from 1000-Word Philosophy. These are not full syllabi, of course, but they can give ideas for how these readings might be used in a course. Please feel free to use this and modify it in any way you see fit for your classes.

Here is a draft reading list for Introduction to Philosophy.

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Reading List 1

Module  Objectives You should be able:Required Learning Resources
1: What Is Philosophy? What Is Ethics?to distinguish philosophical study from other areas of study; to accurately summarize and evaluate different views on the status of ethics and apply them to your prior understanding of the study of ethicsReading 1: What Is Philosophy? by Thomas Metcalf
Reading 2: Evolution and Ethics by Michael Klenk
Reading 3: Ethical Realism, or Moral Realism by Thomas Metcalf
2: Happiness and the Good Lifeto define, explain, and apply views on the value of happiness and utility to summarize and evaluate Mill’s arguments regarding happiness and the good lifeReading 1: Happiness: What Is It to Be Happy? by Kiki Berk
Reading 2: Mill’s Proof of the Principle of Utility by Dale E. Miller
Reading 3: John Stuart Mill on the Good Life: Higher Pleasures by Dale E. Miller
3: Consequentialism vs. Deontologyto summarize and evaluate the normative theories of consequentialism and deontology, and to explain the implications of each to apply these theories to moral issues and compare and contrast what each entailsReading 1: Introduction to Consequentialism by Shane Gronholz
Reading 2: Deontology: Kantian Ethics by Andrew Chapman
Reading 3: (Im)partiality by Shane Gronholz
4: Moral Responsibility and Reactive Attitudesto accurately characterize the free will debate and describe the implications for moral responsibility to apply puzzles regarding moral responsibility to our reactive attitudes of praise and blameReading 1: Free Will and Moral Responsibility by Chelsea Haramia
Reading 2: Ignorance and Blame: Can Ignorance Excuse? By Daniel Miller
Reading 3: Moral Luck by Jonathan Spelman
5: Punishment and Crimeto summarize and evaluate competing justifications of punishment and their implications to apply theories of punishment to concrete issues and situationsReading 1: Theories of Punishment by Travis Joseph Roberts
Reading 2: The Death Penalty Benjamin S. Yost
3: Plato’s Crito: When Should We Break the Law? By Spencer Case
6: Justice and Raceto summarize and evaluate arguments that relate to race and other identifying characteristics to apply philosophical and justice-based arguments to real-world topics and experiencesReading 1: Aristotle’s Defense of Slavery by Dan Lowe
Reading 2: Removing Confederate Monuments by Travis Timmerman
Reading 3: Epistemic Injustice by Huzeyfe Demirtas
Reading 4: African American Existentialism: DuBois, Locke, Thurman, and King by Anthony Sean Neal
7: Applied Ethics Topicsto accurately summarize and evaluate particular applied ethics arguments to apply theoretical knowledge from earlier in our course to these arguments to evaluate consistency in your own reasoning and to apply that reasoning to your understanding of your moral obligationsReading 1: Speciesism by Dan Lowe
Reading 2: Licensing Parents by Ryan Jenkins
Reading 3: Ethics and Absolute Poverty: Peter Singer and Effective Altruism by Brandon Boesch
Required Viewing: The How and Why of Effective Altruism by Peter Singer

Reading List 2

Most of the readings for this course are from 1000-Word Philosophy. When other materials are publicly available, we’ve included links for those also.

Unit 1 | Introductory Weeks: Welcome to Ethics!

Unit 2 | Bio-medical Ethics; Euthanasia, Health Disparities

Unit 3 | Relativism and some Applications: Genital Cutting, Polyamory  

 Unit 4 | Ethics & Religion: Sexual Ethics

 Unit 5 | Abortion; Ethics & Animals

Unit 6 | Punishment; Capital Punishment; Punishment for Drug Use

 Unit 7 | Absolute Poverty; Reparations for Slavery

 Unit 8 | Moral Progress; Happiness and Meaning in Life 

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One thought on “Two “Introduction to Ethics” Reading Lists for Syllabi Construction

  1. Next semester I will teach a course on Philosophy of Law in a Law School and I will certainly use your lists! Thank you. Your website is amazing.

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