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Annas, Julia, , . Applying Virtue to Ethics
2015, Journal of Applied Philosophy 32(1): 1-14.
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Abstract: Virtue ethics is sometimes taken to be incapable of providing guidance for an individual’s actions, as some other ethical theories do. I show how virtue ethics does provide guidance for action, and also meet the objection that, while it may account for what we ought to do, it cannot account for the force of duty and obligation.

Comment: This article presents a fairly detailed proposal of how virtue ethics could be implemented practically as a means of action-guidance. It would be useful as part of an examination of how virtue ethics could work in the real world beyond its abstract principles. It requires the context of awareness of virtue ethics to be properly understood, but any student who has received an introduction to the central concepts of virtue ethics should be able to understand it, including undergraduates.

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Arpaly, Nomy, , . Unprincipled Virtue: An Inquiry Into Moral Agency
2002, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Nomy Arpaly

Publisher’s Note: Nomy Arpaly rejects the model of rationality used by most ethicists and action theorists. Both observation and psychology indicate that people act rationally without deliberation, and act irrationally with deliberation. By questioning the notion that our own minds are comprehensible to us–and therefore questioning much of the current work of action theorists and ethicists–Arpaly attempts to develop a more realistic conception of moral agency.

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Athanassoulis, Nafsika, , . Virtue Ethics
2004, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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Introduction: Virtue ethics is a broad term for theories that emphasize the role of character and virtue in moral philosophy rather than either doing one’s duty or acting in order to bring about good consequences. A virtue ethicist is likely to give you this kind of moral advice: “Act as a virtuous person would act in your situation.” Most virtue ethics theories take their inspiration from Aristotle who declared that a virtuous person is someone who has ideal character traits. These traits derive from natural internal tendencies, but need to be nurtured; however, once established, they will become stable. For example, a virtuous person is someone who is kind across many situations over a lifetime because that is her character and not because she wants to maximize utility or gain favors or simply do her duty. Unlike deontological and consequentialist theories, theories of virtue ethics do not aim primarily to identify universal principles that can be applied in any moral situation. And virtue ethics theories deal with wider questions—“How should I live?” and “What is the good life?” and “What are proper family and social values?”

Comment: A good preliminary introduction to the concept of virtue ethics, including a useful taxonomy of different types of virtue ethics including care ethics and eudaimonism as distinguished from agent-based approaches, information which is occasionally omitted from other sources. It also provides some historical background on the modern development of virtue ethics. It would be valuable as a starting point for examining various issues in virtue ethics, and any of the sections could be assigned individually for an introduction to specific topics.

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Baron, Marcia, , . Kantian Ethics Almost Without Apology
1995, Cornell University Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Nomy Arpaly

Publisher’s Note: The emphasis on duly in Kant’s ethics is widely held to constitute a defect. Marcia W. Baron develops and assesses the criticism, which she sees as comprising two objections: that duty plays too large a role, leaving no room for the supererogatory, and that Kant places too much value on acting from duty. Clearly written and cogently argued, Kantian Ethics Almost without Apology takes on the most philosophically intriguing objections to Kant’s ethics and subjects them to a rigorous yet sympathetic assessment.

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Broad, Jacqueline, , Karen Detlefsen. (eds.) Women and Liberty, 1600-1800: Philosophical Essays
2017, Oxford University Press.
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Publisher’s Note: This book addresses the theme of liberty as it is found in the writing of women philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, or as it is theorized with respect to women and their lives. It covers both theoretical and practical philosophy, with chapters grappling with problems in the metaphysics of free will (both human and God’s), the liberty (or lack thereof) of women in their moral, personal lives as well as their social-political, public lives, and the interactions between the metaphysical and normative issues. The chapters draw upon writing of both women and men, and notably, upon a wide range of genres, including more standard philosophical treatises as well as polemical texts, poetry, plays, and other forms of fiction. As such, this book alerts the reader to the wide range of conceptions of what counts as a philosophical text in the early modern period. Several chapters also grapple with the relation between early modern and contemporary ways of thinking about the theme of women and liberty, thus urging the reader to appreciate the continuing importance of these earlier philosophers in the history of philosophy and of feminism. Ultimately, the chapters in this text show how crucial it is to recover the too-long forgotten views of female and women-friendly male philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, for in the process of recovering these voices, our understanding of philosophy in the early modern period is not only expanded, but also significantly altered toward a more accurate history of our discipline.

Comment: This volume covers ethical, political, metaphysical, and religious notions of liberty, including chapters on women’s ideas about the metaphysics of free will and chapters examining the topic of women’s freedom (or lack thereof) in their moral and personal lives. Some of the papers in this collection could be assigned individually in an undergraduate early modern survey course; or it could be one of the main texts for a more advanced (undergraduate or graduate) course on the topic of liberty/freedom, from a variety of philosophical perspectives (ethical, political, metaphysical, and religious).

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Card, Claudia, , . Against Marriage and Motherhood
1996, Hypatia 11 (3):1 – 23.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Carla Rodriguez

Abstract: This essay argues that current advocacy of lesbian and gay rights to legal marriage and parenthood insufficiently criticizes both marriage and motherhood as they are currently practiced and structured by Northern legal institutions. Instead we would do better not to let the State define our intimate unions and parenting would be improved if the power presently concentrated in the hands of one or two guardians were diluted and distributed through an appropriately concerned community.

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Churchland, Patricia, , . The impact of Neuroscience on Philosophy
2008, Neuron 60, November 6
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Diversifying SyllabiChurchland claims that experimental science has gradually (and rightfully and successfully) replaced philosophical investigations of the world, and suggests that the time has come for philosophy of mind and moral philosophy to “cede” to experimental science. She claims that conceptual analysis has been undermined by “a torrent of neuro­psychological results” that contradict folk psychology (i.e. intuition). Thus, self­respecting philosophers of mind have begun to engage with experimental science. Moral philosophers have not yet realized that their field is going in the same direction, and that their stories are about to be superceded by a “naturalistic framework for looking at human morality and decision making” (409). She gives some examples from animal studies bearing on social behaviour and organization like monogamy, trust and cooperation, social attachment, group cooperation or amalgamation. One central point is that moral rules play only a partial role, if at all, in the “brain’s decision” when faced with “constraint­satisfaction problems” (410).

Comment: This text offers a perfect way to address the common reservations regarding the validity and usefullness of philosophy in the age of neuroscience among the students. It clearly distinguishes between the questions which can and cannot be answered empirically, and shows how the aims of philosophy and neuroscience differ. As the text is very approachable, it can easily be used even outside of a philosophy class; in more focused ethics or philosophy of mind classes it might be best accompanied by more specialised texts.

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Ciulla, Joanne, , . Leadership Ethics: Mapping the Territory
1995, Business Ethics Quarterly 5(1): 5-28.
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Abstract: In this paper I argue that a greater understanding of the part of ethics in leadership will improve leadership studies. Debates over the definition of leadership are really debates over what researchers think constitutes good leadership. The ultimate question is not “What is leadership?” but “What is good leadership?” The word good is refers to both ethics and competence. Research into leadership ethics would explore the ethical issues of current leadership research, serve as a critical study of the field, analyze and expand normative theories of leadership, and develop new theories, research questions and ways of thinking about leadership

Comment: A useful sketch of the ethical issues that arise in the context of leadership.
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Ciulla, Joanne, , . The State of Leadership Ethics and the Work that Lies Before Us
2005, Business Ethics: A European Review 14 (4): 323-335.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Conclusion: As you can see, this paper raises far more questions than it answers. I do, however, believe that the relationship between ethics and effectiveness (or technical and moral excellence) is at the core of leadership ethics and, for that matter, all areas of professional ethics. The question of how ethics is related to effectiveness lurks behind the problems with studying leadership that I mentioned earlier – the problems of language and definition, descriptive and normative confusions, the discussions about altruism and self-interest and the question of causation and history. Ethical assumptions are deeply embedded in the leadership literature and the way that people think about leadership. Leadership ethics requires scholars to first critically read the leadership literature, separate the normative ideas from the descriptive and then put the two back together again. Like most philosophical endeavors, digging for the questions is the most difficult part. Once the questions are unearthed, the task becomes slightly easier. For thousands of years, moral philosophers have wrestled with questions about the relationship between knowledge and morality, free will and determinism, etc. In our libraries reside the works of some of the greatest minds in history to help us with these questions. We should use them.

When we consider the horrendous problems caused by leaders today and in the past, it is extraordinary that there are not more scholars working in the area of ethics and leadership. Most people agree that leaders should be ethical, but few have delved into what this means. How do we prepare leaders who have the capacity to responsibly use power, to carry out moral obligations to followers, make sound moral decisions and serve their organizations and constituents well, etc.? And, how do we develop followers, organizations, systems and institutions that support good leadership and do not tolerate bad leadership? These are questions faced by people everywhere and we will need the help of scholars around the world to
answer them.

Comment: A useful sketch of the ethical issues that arise in the context of leadership, particularly in the business sphere.

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Cockburn, Catharine Trotter, , . Selections from A Defence of Mr Locke’s Essay of Human Understanding
1994, in Margaret Atherton (ed.) Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period. Hackett Publishing Company. [originally written 1702]
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Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Diversifying Syllabi: Catharine Trotter Cockburn argues that Burnet’s critiques of Locke are mistaken. In particular, she argues (a) that Burnet has misunderstood Locke, (b) that Burnet’s conclusions aren’t supported by his arguments, and (c) that, even if they were, they would not constitute criticisms of Locke. Primarily, Cockburn is eager to show that Locke’s view is consistent with a view of the mind/soul as immaterial and immortal.

Comment: This chapter could be used in a history of philosophy course as one week’s reading. It could follow a section on Locke as Cockburn defends Locke, specifically against the charge that his empiricist epistemology cannot account for moral ideas, but in doing so develops her own account of conscience.

Complimentary Texts/Resources:

Jane Duran, “Early English Empiricism and the Work of Catharine Trotter Cockburn”

Martha Brandt Bolton, “Some Aspects of the Philosophical Work of Catharine Trotter”

Patricia Sheridan, “Reflection, Nature and Moral Law: The Extent of Catharine Cockburn’s Lockeanism in her Defence of Mr. Locke’s Essay”

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Corrigan, Oonagh, , . Empty Ethics: The Problem with Informed Consent
2003, Sociology of Health & Illness, 25 (3): 768-792.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Abstract: Informed consent is increasingly heralded as an ethical panacea, a tool to counter autocratic and paternalistic medical practices. Debate about the implementation of informed consent is constricted and polarised, centring on the right of individuals to be fully informed and to freely choose versus an autocratic, paternalistic practice that negates individual choice. A bioethical framework, based on a principle-led form of reductive/deductive reasoning, dominates the current model of informed consent. Such a model tends to abstract the process of consent from its clinical and social setting. By fleshing out the social process involved when patients and healthy volunteer subjects consent to take part in clinical drug trials, this paper attempts to address the problem arising from the current ’empty ethics’ model. My arguments are substantiated by qualitative interview data drawn from a study I conducted on the process of consent as experienced by participants in clinical drug trials.

Comment: This text is a clear critique of the use of informed consent as a medical-ethical panacea (it could be taught alongside O’neill’s “Paternalism and Partial Autonomy” for a more accessible and applied look at the problem of informed consent). It would be useful as a contrast at the end of a unit on informed consent for medical treatment or a unit on clinical research ethics. It is especially good for use in a biomedical ethics or research ethics course aimed at students interested in the health professions.

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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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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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Demetriou, Dan, , Wingo, Ajume. The Ethics of Racist Monuments
, In David Boonin (ed.), Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy. Palgrave .
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Dan Demetriou

Abstract: In this chapter we focus on the debate over publicly-maintained racist monuments as it manifests in the mid-2010s Anglosphere, primarily in the US (chiefly regarding the over 700 monuments devoted to the Confederacy), but to some degree also in Britain and Commonwealth countries, especially South Africa (chiefly regarding monuments devoted to figures and events associated with colonialism and apartheid). After pointing to some representative examples of racist monuments, we discuss ways a monument can be thought racist, and neutrally categorize removalist and preservationist arguments heard in the monument debate. We suggest that both extremist and moderate removalist goals are likely to be self-defeating, and that when concerns of civic sustainability are put on moral par with those of fairness and justice, something like a Mandela-era preservationist policy is best: one which removes the most offensive of the minor racist monuments, but which focuses on closing the monumentary gap between peoples and reframing existing racist monuments.

Comment: Frames debates about racist monuments (e.g., Confederate or colonialist monuments), categorizes arguments for and against removal. Suitable for an intro-level course.

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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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