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Calhoun, Cheshire. The Virtue of Civility
2000, Philosophy and Public Affairs 29 (3):251-275.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Eline Gerritsen

Abstract: The decline of civility has increasingly become the subject of lament both in popular media and in daily conversation. Civility forestalls the potential unpleasantness of a life with other people. Without it, daily social exchanges can turn nasty and sometimes hazardous. Civility thus seems to be a basic virtue of social life. Moral philosophers, however, do not typically mention civility in their catalogues or examples of virtue. In what follows, I want to suggest that civility is a particularly interesting virtue for moral philosophers because giving an adequate account of the virtue of civility requires us to rethink the relationship between moral virtue and compliance with social norms.

Comment: This paper has a clear argumentative structure, gives many examples and does not require prior knowledge of the topic. It can be used on its own in a discussion of virtue ethics, e.g. to illustrate how you can argue that something is a virtue and how to differentiate virtues. It can also be used in a discussion of the relation between morality and social norms.

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Du Châtelet, Emilie. Discourse on Happiness
2009, Selected Philosophical and Scientific Writings, ed. with an Introduction by Judith P. Zinsser, transl. by Isabelle Bour, Judith P. Zinsser, Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press, 349–365.
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Added by: Björn Freter

Abstract: It is commonly believed that it is difficult to be happy, and there is much reason for such a belief; but it would be much easier for men to be happy if reflecting on and planning conduct preceded action. One is carried along by circumstances and indulges in hopes that never yield half of what one expects. Finally, one clearly perceives the means to be happy only when age and self- imposed fetters put obstacles in one’s way.

Comment: This accessible 18th century text lays out a hedonistic theory of happiness with interesting parallels to Epicureanism.

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Fileva, Iskra. Moral Testimony and Collective Moral Governance
2023, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 101 (3):722-735.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Ethan Landes
Abstract:

I suggest that a moderate version of pessimism about moral testimony succeeds. However, I claim also that all major pessimist accounts—Understanding, Affect, Virtue, and Autonomy—fail. Having argued for these claims, I propose a new pessimist alternative.

Comment: The paper would offer a good overview of the current state of the moral testimony literature, specifically focusing on moral arguments against moral testimony. The paper moves through the literature quickly and breezily, explaining the key positions then offering a counterargument. It requires minimal knowledge of the literature, although it does presuppose some familiarity with what testimony is meant to be.

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Heinzelmann, Nora. Deontology defended
2018, Synthese 195 (12):5197–5216
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Added by: Björn Freter
Abstract:

Abstract: Empirical research into moral decision-making is often taken to have normative implications. For instance, in his recent book, Greene (2013) relies on empirical findings to establish utilitarianism as a superior normative ethical theory. Kantian ethics, and deontological ethics more generally, is a rival view that Greene attacks. At the heart of Greene’s argument against deontology is the claim that deontological moral judgments are the product of certain emotions and not of reason. Deontological ethics is a mere rationalization of these emotions. Accordingly Greene maintains that deontology should be abandoned. This paper is a defense of deontological ethical theory. It argues that Greene’s argument against deontology needs further support. Greene’s empirical evidence is open to alternative interpretations. In particular, it is not clear that Greene’s characterization of alarm-like emotions that are relative to culture and personal experience is empirically tenable. Moreover, it is implausible that such emotions produce specifically deontological judgments. A rival sentimentalist view, according to which all moral judgments are determined by emotion, is at least as plausible given the empirical evidence and independently supported by philosophical theory. I therefore call for an improvement of Greene’s argument.

Comment: Defends deontological ethics against debunking arguments based on neuroscientific evidence, notably Joshua Greene's critique. Can be used in a unit on neurophilosophy, empirically informed ethics, or philosophy of cognitive science; e.g., can be pitted against Greene's "The secret joke of Kant's soul"

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Lovibond, Sabina. Realism and Imagination in Ethics
1983, Blackwell.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa
Publisher's Note: In Realism and Imagination in Ethics, author Sabina Lovibond explores the non-cognitive theory of ethics along with its objections and the alternative of moral realism. Delving into expressivism, perception, moral sense theory, objectivity, and more, this book pulls from Wittgenstein, Hegel, Bradley, Nietzsche and others to explore the many facets of ethics and perception. The discussion analyzes the language, theories, and criteria surrounding ethical action, and describes the faults and fallacies of traditional schools of thought.

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O'Neill, Onora. A Question of Trust
2002, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt
Publisher's Note: We say we can no longer trust our public services, institutions or the people who run them. The professionals we have to rely on - politicians, doctors, scientists, businessmen and many others - are treated with suspicion. Their word is doubted, their motives questioned. Whether real or perceived, this crisis of trust has a debilitating impact on society and democracy. Can trust be restored by making people and institutions more accountable? Or do complex systems of accountability and control themselves damage trust? Onora O'Neill challenges current approaches, investigates sources of deception in our society and re-examines questions of press freedom. 2002's Reith Lectures present a philosopher's view of trust and deception, and ask whether and how trust can be restored in a modern democracy.

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Olberding, Amy. Community Practices and Getting Good at Bad Emotions
2023, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 93:9-21
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Added by: Deryn Mair Thomas
Abstract:

Early Confucian philosophy is remarkable in its attention to everyday social interactions and their power to steer our emotional lives. Their work on the social dimensions of our moral-emotional lives is enormously promising for thinking through our own context and struggles, particularly, I argue, the ways that public rhetoric and practices may steer us away from some emotions it can be important to have, especially negative emotions. Some of our emotions are bad – unpleasant to experience, reflective of dissatisfactions or even heartbreak – but nonetheless quite important to express and, more basically, to feel. Grief is like this, for example. So, too, is disappointment. In this essay, I explore how our current social practices may fail to support expressions of disappointment and thus suppress our ability to feel it well.

Comment: This essay explores the ways that society and social culture can either facilitate or inhibit our opportunities to practice feeling, experiencing, and managing bad (or undesirable) emotions, and the problems that might be associated with our failure to do so. In particular, the author focuses on the feelings of grief and dissapointment, highlighting their importance in the context of a full and flourishing life. Without them, we may lose other interpersonal and empathetic skills which allow us to live well with others and approach others in good faith. As such, this essay bears obvious relevance to topic areas such as philosophy of death and Confucian philosophy, but also applies more broadly to questions about the practice of virtue, philosophy of emotions, applied/everday ethics, and the cultivation of pro-social habits.

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Tiberius, Valerie. Moral Psychology: A Contemporary Introduction
2015, New York, NY: Routledge.
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Added by: Carl Fox
Publisher’s Note: Publisher: This is the first philosophy textbook in moral psychology, introducing students to a range of philosophical topics and debates such as: What is moral motivation? Do reasons for action always depend on desires? Is emotion or reason at the heart of moral judgment? Under what conditions are people morally responsible? Are there self-interested reasons for people to be moral? Moral Psychology: A Contemporary Introduction presents research by philosophers and psychologists on these topics, and addresses the overarching question of how empirical research is relevant to philosophical inquir

Comment: Wide-ranging introductory textbook. Very useful for introductory readings to a range of issues in and around moral psychology.

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Wolf, Susan. Moral Psychology and the Unity of the Virtues
2007, Ratio 20 (2): 145–167.
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Added by: Simon Fokt
Abstract: The ancient Greeks subscribed to the thesis of the Unity of Virtue, according to which the possession of one virtue is closely related to the possession of all the others. Yet empirical observation seems to contradict this thesis at every turn. What could the Greeks have been thinking of? The paper offers an interpretation and a tentative defence of a qualified version of the thesis. It argues that, as the Greeks recognized, virtue essentially involves knowledge - specifically, evaluative knowledge of what matters. Furthermore, such knowledge is essentially holistic. Perfect and complete possession of one virtue thus requires the knowledge that is needed for the possession of every other virtue. The enterprise of trying to reconcile the normative view embodied in this conception of virtue with empirical observation also serves as a case study for the field of moral psychology in which empirical and normative claims are often deeply and confusingly intertwined.

Comment: Useful as further reading in courses focusing on ancient and moral philosophy. Can be particularly useful in teaching on topics related to moral psychology and its relations with moral philosophy.

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