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Bullock, Emma, , . A Normatively Neutral Definition of Paternalism
2015, Philosophical Quarterly 65(258): 1-21.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper, I argue that a definition of paternalism must meet certain methodological constraints. Given the failings of descriptivist and normatively charged definitions of paternalism, I argue that we have good reason to pursue a normatively neutral definition. Archard’s 1990 definition is one such account. It is for this reason that I return to Archard’s account with a critical eye. I argue that Archard’s account is extensionally inadequate, failing to capture some cases which are clear instances of paternalism. I refine each of his three conditions, ultimately providing an improved definition of paternalistic interference. This revised definition meets specific methodological constraints, offering a definition that is both neutral between anti- and pro-paternalistic intuitions, but that also explains why paternalism is normatively significant. Specifically, this definition captures the conflict between interfering with an individual’s choices and treating the individual benevolently, without making paternalism permissible or impermissible by definition.

Comment: This paper updates Archard’s attempt to provide a normatively neutral account of paternalism, and would be a good further reading for any topic touching on paternalism.

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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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Chong, Kim-Chong, , . The Concept of Zhen 真 in the Zhuangzi
2011, Philosophy East and West 61(2): 324-346.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Ian James Kidd

Abstract: The term zhen in the Zhuangzi is commonly associated with the zhen ren or the “true person,” who is described, for example, as capable of going through fire and water unharmed. Some scholars take this as typifying a mystical element in the Zhuangzi. This essay investigates the various meanings and uses of zhen in the Zhuangzi and reaches a broader understanding of the zhen ren in various contexts.

Comment: Excellent on the concept of ‘zhen’ (authenticity, naturalness) in Daoism. Long but clearly written. Very useful for explaining the character of Daoist ethics.

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Dalmiya, Vrinda, , . Why should a knower care?
2002, Hypatia 17(1): 34–52.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: This paper argues that the concept of care is significant not only for ethics, but for epistemology as well. After elucidating caring as a five-step dyadic relation, I go on to show its epistemic significance within the general framework of virtue epistemology as developed by Ernest Sosa, Alvin Goldman, and Linda Zagzebski. The notions of “care-knowing” and “care-based epistemology” emerge from construing caring (respectively) as a reliabilist and responsibilist virtue.

Comment: This text is best used in epistemology classes when discussing virtue reliablist and responsibilist approaches, and epistemic success in general. It will also be useful in philosophy of science classes: Dalmiya argues for radical changes in our approach to scientific research, including a redefinition of the epistemic and moral constraints which guide it.

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Davis, Nancy, , . Contemporary deontology
1993, In Peter Singer (ed.), A Companion to Ethics. John Wiley & Sons.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Many people profess to believe that acting morally, or as we ought to act, involves the self-conscious acceptance of some (quite specific) constraints or rules that place limits both on the pursuit of our own interests and on our pursuit of the general good. Though these people do not regard the furtherance of our own interests or the pursuit of the general good as ignoble ends, or ones that we are morally required to eschew, they believe that neither can be regarded as providing us with morally sufficient reason to take action. Those who hold such a view believe that there are certain sorts of acts that are wrong in themselves, and thus morally unacceptable means to the pursuit of any ends, even ends that are morally admirable, or morally obligatory. (How strong the prohibition is against performing such acts is a matter that will be taken up later.) Philosophers call such ethical views ‘deontological’ (from the Greek deon , ‘duty’), and contrast them to views that are ‘teleological’ in structure (from telos , Greek for ‘goal’). Those who hold teleological views reject the view that there are special kinds of acts that are right or wrong in themselves. For teleologists, the rightness or wrongness of our acts is determined by a comparative assessment of their consequences. […] The focus of this essay is on deontological theories.

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Deligiorgi, Katerina, , . Hegel’s Moral Philosophy
2017, In Dean Moyar (ed.), Oxford Handbook to Hegel’s Philosophy. Oxford University Press
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Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by:

Abstract: Hegel’s criticism of morality, or Moralität, has had a decisive influence in the reception of his thought. By general acknowledgment, while his writings support a broadly neo-Aristotelian ethics of self-actualization, his views on moral philosophy are exhausted by his criticisms of Kant, whom he treats as paradigmatic exponent of the standpoint of morality. The aim of this chapter is to correct this received view and show that Hegel offers a positive conception of moral willing. The main argument is presented in two parts: (a) an interpretation of the ‘Morality’ section of the Philosophy of Right that shows Hegel defending a guise of the good version of willing; and (b) an examination of problems raised by this view of willing, some of which are anticipated by Hegel in in his treatment of the ‘Idea of the Good’ in the Logic, and of the interpretative options available to deal with these problems.

Comment: A useful account of Hegel’s position in moral philosophy focusing on his relation to Kant. Could be used on an ethics course when covering Hegel, either as supplementary to a reading from Hegel or as primary reading introducing a further reading by Hegel the following week.

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Driver, Julia, , . Ethics: The Fundamentals
2006, Wiley-Blackwell.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Editor’s Note: Ethics: The Fundamentals explores core ideas and arguments in moral theory by introducing students to different philosophical approaches to ethics, including virtue ethics, Kantian ethics, divine command theory, and feminist ethics. The first volume in the new Fundamentals of Philosophy series. Presents lively, real-world examples and thoughtful discussion of key moral philosophers and their ideas. Constitutes an excellent resource for readers coming to the subject of ethics for the first time.

Comment: This book offers good preliminary introductions to a number of topics in ethics. Each section could be assigned individually as a starting point for the given topic. The sections on utilitarianism and consequentialism are particularly good introductions. Primarily of use to early undergraduates or students who have not studied ethics before.

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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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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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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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Foot, Philippa, , . Natural Goodness
2001, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Philippa Foot has for many years been one of the most distinctive and influential thinkers in moral philosophy. Long dissatisfied with the moral theories of her contemporaries, she has gradually evolved a theory of her own that is radically opposed not only to emotivism and prescriptivism but also to the whole subjectivist, anti-naturalist movement deriving from David Hume. Dissatisfied with both Kantian and utilitarian ethics, she claims to have isolated a special form of evaluation that predicates goodness and defect only to living things considered as such; she finds this form of evaluation in moral judgements. Her vivid discussion covers topics such as practical rationality, erring conscience, and the relation between virtue and happiness, ending with a critique of Nietzsche’s immoralism. This long-awaited book exposes a highly original approach to moral philosophy and represents a fundamental break from the assumptions of recent debates. Foot challenges many prominent philosophical arguments and attitudes; but hers is a work full of life and feeling, written for anyone intrigued by the deepest questions about goodness and human.

Comment: This is an intermediate text which outlines and argues for the primary methodological differences between Foot’s account of the relationship between reason and morality, and the standard (broadly Humean) approach against which she is arguing. Some understanding of this standard approach is required to get the most out of this text. The text is clear throughout and would make a good compliment to courses which deal with the Humean account of Action or 20th century discussions concerning meta-ethics.

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Foot, Philippa, , . The Philosopher’s Defence of Morality
1952, Philosophy 27(103): 311-328
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion, Contributed by:

Introduction: Philosophers are often asked whether they can provide a defence against hostile theories which are said to be “undermining the foundations of morality,” and they often try to do so. But before anything of this kind is attempted we should surely ask whether morality could be threatened in this way. If what people have in mind is simply that the spread of certain doctrines leads to the growth of indifference about right and wrong there is no philosophical problem involved. So long as we treat the matter as a case of cause and effect it will belong rather to the psychologist than the philosopher, and we have no reason for questioning that correlations of this kind may exist. But this is not the assumption, or not the only one, for people undoubtedly do think that if certain doctrines could be proved then moral judgment would have been shown to be “nonsensical,” “meaningless,” or “invalid,” so that thereafter it would be not merely difficult but positively irrational to formulate and attempt to follow moral principles. It would be simple enough if the attack was supposed to be against some particular moral code, for there are recognized ways of arguing that a thing is not right but wrong. But when it is morality in general which is to be disproved or discredited it is difficult to see what this means or how it could be done. What would have to be shown is not that this or that is not right, but that nothing is—or not in the old sense so that attacking moral judgment is not like attacking a theory but more like attacking theorizing itself, which shows where the difficulty lies. If something is stated it can be denied or disproved, but a moral judgment does not contain statements except about what in particular is right or wrong. Yet many people, though they would probably reject a request for a justification of morality in the form of some argument as to why we should do our duty, feel that morality would be in a positive sense unjustifiable if certain supporting truths were knocked away from the structure. This may indeed be so, but we are unable to show that it is, or to explain the matter by appealing to “presuppositions” of morality, which besides being far too vague would too easily include much that was linked merely psychologically to the recognition of obligation. I propose, therefore, to look at some specific arguments which are supposed by those who resist them to constitute a threat to morality, and to ask whether this supposition is justified.

Comment: This text offers a persuasive and creative attack on the dominant meta-ethical views of the 20th century. Foot offers insightful reasons to reject the subjectivist, relativist and amoralist positions on ethics. As such this text would be suitable for intermediate level courses on moral philosophy, history of philosophy classes as well as – potentially – critical thinking courses, as Foot’s argumentational style in this paper would likely be illuminating to students when analysed.

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Foot, Philippa, , . The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect
1967, Oxford Review 5:5-15, reprinted in Virtues and vices. Oxford: Blackwell.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Introduction: One of the reasons why most of us feel puzzled about the problem of abortion is that we want, and do not want, to allow to the unborn child the rights that belong to adults and children. When we think of a baby about to be born it seems absurd to think that the next few minutes or even hours could make so radical a difference to its status; yet as we go back in the life of the foetus we are more and more reluctant to say that this is a human being and must be treated as such. No doubt this is the deepest source of our dilemma, but it is not the only one. For we are also confused about the general question of what we may and may not do where the interests of human beings conflict. We have strong intuitions about certain cases; saying, for instance, that it is all right to raise the level of education in our country, though statistics allow us to predict that a rise in the suicide rate will follow, while it is not all right to kill the feeble-minded to aid cancer research. It is not easy, however, to see the principles involved, and one way of throwing light on the abortion issue will be by setting up parallels involving adults or children once born. So we will be able to isolate the ‘equal rights’ issue and should be able to make some advance.

Comment: The text introduces some crucial distinctions, discussing the difference between ‘doing’ and ‘allowing to happen’ and the related negative and positive duties. Foot argues that what matters in the Doctrine is not the directness of the actor’s intention, but whether they intend to follow a negative or positive duty. This paper is most useful in teaching on the ethics of abortion and euthanasia, as well as the doctrine of double effect in general.

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Foot, Philippa, , . Virtues and Vices
1978, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by: Nomy Arpaly

Publisher’s Note: This collection of essays, written between 1957 and 1977, contains discussions of the moral philosophy of David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, and some modern philosophers. It presents virtues and vices rather than rights and duties as the central concepts in moral philosophy. Throughout, the author rejects contemporary anti? naturalistic moral philosophies such as emotivism and prescriptivism, but defends the view that moral judgements may be hypothetical rather than (as Kant thought) categorical imperatives. The author also applies her moral philosophy to the current debates on euthanasia and abortion, the latter discussed in relation to the doctrine of the double effect. She argues against the suggestion, on the part of A. J. Ayer and others, that free will actually requires determinism. In a final essay, she asks whether the concept of moral approval can be understood except against a particular background of social practices.

Comment: Foot stands out among contemporary ethical theorists because of her conviction that virtues and vices are more central ethical notions than rights, duties, justice, or consequences. Since the author discusses multiple relevant topics (abortion, euthanasia, free will/determination, and the ethics of Hume and Nietzsche) this book is a really complete reading for Ethics courses. The book can be used in both, undergraduate and postgraduate courses, but the last eight essays are more suitable for postgraduates.

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Frazer, Elizabeth, Hornsby, Jennifer, Lovibond, Sabina (eds.). Ethics: A Feminist Reader
1992, Blackwell.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by:

Abstract: Book synopsis: The feminist movement has challenged many of the unstated assumptions on which ethics as a branch of philosophy has always rested – assumptions about human nature, moral agency, citizenship and kinship. The twenty-six readings in this book express the discontent of a succession of fiercely articulate women writers, from Mary Wollstonecraft to the present day, with the masculine bias of `morality’. The editors have contributed an overall introduction, which discusses ethics, feminism and feminist themes in ethics, and have provided introductions to each of the readings, designed to situate in their historical and intellectual context. They have also compiled two lists for further reading: `Ethics: a Feminist Bibliography’ and `The Male Tradition’. Ethics: A Feminist Reader is an essential resource for students and teachers of philosophy, political theory and women’s studies. For anyone with a stake in progressive sexual politics it is an inspirational guide.

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Fricker, Elizabeth, , . Critical notice: Telling and trusting: Reductionism and anti-reductionism in the epistemology of testimony
1995, Mind 104 (414): 393-411.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this review I focus on the arguments advanced by Coady in the main task to which he addresses himself in Testimony: arguing the case against the reductive position, and in favour of a non-reductive conception of testimonial knowledge. I introduce some distinctions which I believe enable the subject to taken further.

Comment: This review critically discusses the first book on testimony in contemporary philosophy and advances the dabates. It is a very good background reading for courses on epistemology or social epistemology. It saves students from reading Coady’s original book.

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