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Anscombe, G. E. M., , . Modern Moral Philosophy
1958, Philosophy 33(124): 1-19
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion, Contributed by:

Summary: The author presents and defends three theses: (1) “the first is that it is not profitable for us at present to do moral philosophy; that should be laid aside at any rate until we have an adequate philosophy of psychology.” (2) “the second is that the concepts of obligation, And duty… And of what is morally right and wrong, And of the moral sense of ‘ought’, Ought to be jettisoned if this is psychologically possible….” (3) “the third thesis is that the differences between the well-Known English writers on moral philosophy from Sidgwick to the present day are of little importance.”

Comment: This text offers an advanced-level criticism of the dominant normative ethical theories of the 20th century (namely consequentialism and deontology). Since this is a seminal text, it would be suitable for history of philosophy courses, moral philosophy courses (especially sections pertaining to Aristotelian or Neo-Aristotelian Virtue ethics). It does require rudimentary knowledge of Consequentialism and Deontology and as such would be best utilised in second or third year undergraduate (or postgraduate) courses.

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Anscombe, G. Elizabeth M., , . Modern Moral Philosophy
1958, Philosophy 33(124): 1-19.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Abstract: I will begin by stating three theses which I present in this paper. The first is that it is not profitable for us at present to do moral philosophy; that should be laid aside at any rate until we have an adequate philosophy of psychology, in which we are conspicuously lacking. The second is that the concepts of obligation, and duty – moral obligation and moral duty, that is to say – and of what is morally right and wrong, and of the moral sense of “ought,” ought to be jettisoned if this is psychologically possible; because they are survivals, or derivatives from survivals, from an earlier conception of ethics which no longer generally survives, and are only harmful without it. My third thesis is that the differences between the wellknown English writers on moral philosophy from Sidgwick to the present day are of little importance.

Comment: Classic text which raises key problems for any theory of moral obligation. Very short, although also very dense. Could be a core reading, or a futher reading to provide important background.

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Chappell, Sophie-Grace, , . Intuition, Theory and Anti-Theory in Ethics
2015, Oxford: Oxford University Press
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Added by: Graham Bex-Priestley, Contributed by:

Publisher: What form, or forms, might ethical knowledge take? In particular, can ethical knowledge take the form either of moral theory, or of moral intuition? If it can, should it? These are central questions for ethics today, and they are the central questions for the philosophical essays collected in this volume. Intuition, Theory, and Anti-Theory in Ethicsdraws together new work by leading experts in the field, in order to represent as many different perspectives on the discussion as possible. The volume is not built upon any kind of tidy consensus about what ‘knowledge’, ‘theory’, and ‘intuition’ mean. Rather, the idea is to explore as many as possible of the different things that knowledge, theory, and intuition could be in ethics.

Comment: A collection of essays that discuss the different ways we can conceive of moral knowledge. It can be a useful source for learning about the merits of generalism versus particularism (theory versus anti-theory), and about how sceptical to be when it comes to our ethical intuitions. It is a good overview taken as a whole; each individual contribution is self-contained and makes specific arguments.

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Foot, Philippa, , . Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives
1972, The Philosophical Review, Vol. 81, No. 3. (Jul., 1972), pp. 305-316
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

Summary: In this well known paper, the author argues that there are no categorical imperatives. In a nutshell, the author’s logical outline runs – schematically – as follows: i) imperatives can be either categorical or imperative ii) moral imperatives are not categorical, iii) Therefore, there are hypotetical.

Comment: This can be used as main text in an introductory undergraduate course on ethics or meta-ethics.
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