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 ethics||Reading 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 Life||to define, explain, and apply views on the value of happiness and utility to summarize and evaluate Mill’s arguments regarding happiness and the good life||Reading 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. Deontology||to 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 entails||Reading 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 Attitudes||to 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 blame||Reading 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 Crime||to summarize and evaluate competing justifications of punishment and their implications to apply theories of punishment to concrete issues and situations||Reading 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 Race||to summarize and evaluate arguments that relate to race and other identifying characteristics to apply philosophical and justice-based arguments to real-world topics and experiences||Reading 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 Topics||to 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 obligations||Reading 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!
- What is Philosophy? by Tom Metcalf
- An Ethical Theory: Deontology: Kantian Ethics by Andrew Chapman
- An Ethical Theory: Consequentialism by Shane Gronholz
- An Ethical Theory: The African Ethic of Ubuntu by Thaddeus Metz
- An Ethical Theory: John Rawls’ Theory of Justice by Ben Davies
- Ethics and Extra Credit by Nathan Nobis
Unit 2 | Bio-medical Ethics; Euthanasia, Health Disparities
- This unit’s main reading is James Rachels’ The Elements of Moral Philosophy, “What is Morality?” chapter. A link for that chapter is not provided here.
- Video overview of Elements of Moral Philosophy chapter (40 minutes)
- “Euthanasia or Mercy Killing” by Nathan Nobis
- “Principlism in Biomedical Ethics” by G. M. Trujillo, Jr.
- “Applied Ethics” by Chelsea Haramia
- “Racial Health Disparities” (also “Racism, Inequality and Health Care for African Americans”)
Unit 3 | Relativism and some Applications: Genital Cutting, Polyamory
- Cultural Relativism: Do Cultural Norms Make Actions Right and Wrong? by Nathan Nobis.
- A video on relativism: Is Cultural Relativism Racist?: (60 minutes): There are many good videos that give an overview and critique of cultural or ethical relativism. This is a good one that reviews many of the objections to the theory, focusing on how the theory could be used to defend racism and slavery (and so that’s a good reason to reject the theory):
- Readings on genital cutting
- What’s Culture Got to Do with It? Excising the Harmful Tradition of Female Circumcision, Harvard Law Review, 1993.
- “Boys and girls alike: An un-consenting child, an unnecessary, invasive surgery: is there any moral difference between male and female circumcision?” Brian Earp, Aeon.
- A video: Female genital mutilation and male circumcision – don’t compare them? Also, there are many videos on the topic of female genital mutilation, female circumcision, and female genital cutting, as well as the ethics of male circumcision. If you’d like, look on Youtube to see what you find!
- Two readings on polyamory and monogamy (60 minutes):
- A philosopher makes the case for polyamory, Vox.
- “Why Monogamy Is Marvelous: In Defence Of Fidelity,” Fiona Woollard, The Critique, 2017
Unit 4 | Ethics & Religion: Sexual Ethics
- A reading on the divine command theory of ethics by Spencer Case
- A reading on ethics and the Bible (link not available)
- Video: John Corvino, “What’s morally wrong with homosexuality?” (60 minutes) (see his other videos also)
- What is it to love someone? by Felipe Pereira
- Virtue Ethics by David Merry
- An article on racism in dating. (link not available)
- Do Black Men Have a Moral Duty to Marry Black Women? by Charles Mills, 1994
Unit 5 | Abortion; Ethics & Animals
- The Ethics of Abortion by Nathan Nobis
- “Speciesism” by Dan Lowe
- The Moral Status of Animals by Jason Wyckoff
- Video: “Their Future is in your hands” by Animal Aid
- “Reasonable Humans and Animals” by John Simmons
- Abstract of the Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets
Unit 6 | Punishment; Capital Punishment; Punishment for Drug Use
- Theories of Punishment by Travis Joseph Rodgers
- Is death bad? by Frederik Kaufman (Please read the Introduction, Sections 1 & 2 and the conclusion, section 6)
- The Death Penalty by Benjamin Yost
- America’s Unjust Drug War by Michael Huemer
- Video: Overview of America’s Unjust Drug War
- Video: Introduction to Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” (review a number of videos)
- “Racial Justice Requires Ending the War on Drugs” by Brian Earp, et al
- Video: Discussion of “Racial Justice Requires Ending the War on Drugs” (60 minutes)
Unit 7 | Absolute Poverty; Reparations for Slavery
- An Ethical Theory: Ethical Egoism by Nathan Nobis
- Ethics and Absolute Poverty: Ethics and Absolute Poverty: Peter Singer and Effective Altruism by Brandon Boesch
- Video: Effective Altruism
- An Ethical Theory: Social Contract Theory by David Antonini and “Nasty, Brutish, and Short”: Thomas Hobbes on Life in the State of Nature by Daniel Weltman
- Aristotle’s Defense of Slavery by Dan Lowe
- A Basic Argument for Reparations by Colin McGinn
- Reparations for Historic Injustice by Joseph Frigault
- Defining Capitalism and Socialism and Arguments for Capitalism and Socialism by Thomas Metcalf
Unit 8 | Moral Progress; Happiness and Meaning in Life
- Video: The Progress of Liberalism: Michael Huemer
- Existentialism by Addison Ellis
- African American Existentialism: DuBois, Locke, Thurman, and King by Anthony Sean Neal
- Happiness by Kiki Birk
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