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Holroyd, Jules, , . Feminist Metaethics
2013, International Encyclopedia of Ethics (ed. H. LaFollette).
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Abstract: Metaethical questions concern the nature of morality: are there moral properties, and, if so, what kind of thing are they? How do they motivate us? How should we understand moral discourse, and how can we gain moral knowledge?

Comment: Great paper to use for either a metaethics or a feminist philosophy course. Would work well as a core reading, as it maps the terrain very well. It could be good to set students seminar prep work of picking one feminist meta-ethicist that Holroyd mentions, and to research some more into their view – to explain to the class briefly (a minute or so per person).

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Korsgaard, Christine, , . The Sources of Normativity
1996, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Chris Howard, Contributed by: Nomy Arpaly

Publisher’s Note: Ethical concepts are, or purport to be, normative. They make claims on us: they command, oblige, recommend, or guide. Or at least when we invoke them, we make claims on one another; but where does their authority over us – or ours over one another – come from? Christine Korsgaard identifies four accounts of the source of normativity that have been advocated by modern moral philosophers: voluntarism, realism, reflective endorsement, and the appeal to autonomy. She traces their history, showing how each developed in response to the prior one and comparing their early versions with those on the contemporary philosophical scene. Kant’s theory that normativity springs from our own autonomy emerges as a synthesis of the other three, and Korsgaard concludes with her own version of the Kantian account. Her discussion is followed by commentary from G. A. Cohen, Raymond Geuss, Thomas Nagel, and Bernard Williams, and a reply by Korsgaard.

Comment: Parts of this book are “must-read” in any metaethics course. Chapter 1 (skipping sections 1.3.1-1.3.4) is an excellent addition to a unit on the authority of morality; chapters 2 and 3 are equally excellent additions to a unit on (Kantian) metaethical constructivism.

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Shah, Nishi, , . How Truth Governs Belief
2003, Philosophical Review 112 (4): 447-482.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: Why, when asking oneself whether to believe that p, must one immediately recognize that this question is settled by, and only by, answering the question whether p is true? Truth is not an optional end for first-personal doxastic deliberation, providing an instrumental or extrinsic reason that an agent may take or leave at will. Otherwise there would be an inferential step between discovering the truth with respect to p and determining whether to believe that p, involving a bridge premise that it is good (in whichever sense of good one likes, moral, prudential, aesthetic, allthings-considered, etc.) to believe the truth with respect to p. But there is no such gap between the two questions within the first-personal deliberative perspective; the question whether to believe that p seems to collapse into the question whether p is true.

Comment: This text will be most useful in advanced Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind, Metaethics and Philosophy of Action classes. The core argument of should be manageable for students who have read a bit of epistemology/metaethics/mind, but substantial familiarity with these areas is necessary to get the paper as a whole. The paper is also valuable for its critique of Alan Gibbard’s noncognitivist account of normative judgments and J. David Velleman’s teleological account of truth’s normative governance of belief (Diversifying Syllabi).

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Srinivasan, Amia, , . Feminism and Metaethics
2016, in Mcpherson, Tristram and Plunkett, David (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Metaethics, Routledge 2016
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

Abstract: Feminism is first and foremost a political project: a project aimed at the liberation of women and the destruction of patriarchy. This project does not have a particular metaethics; there is no feminist consensus, for example, on the epistemology of moral belief or the metaphysics of moral truth. But the work of feminist philosophers – that is, philosophers who identify with the political project of feminism, and moreover see that political project as informing their philosophical work – raises significant metaethical questions: about the need to rehabilitate traditional moral philosophy, about the extent to which political and moral considerations can play a role in philosophical theorizing, and about the importance of rival metaethical conceptions for first-order political practice. I discuss some of the contributions that feminist philosophy makes to each of these questions in turn. I hope to call attention to the way in which feminist thought bears on traditional topics in metaethics (particularly moral epistemology and ethical methodology) but also to how feminist thought might inform metaethical practice itself.

Comment: The author discusses some contributions that feminist philosophy can make to some questions on metaethics. Can be used for a course on feminism.

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Zagzebski, Linda, , . Does Ethics Need God?
1987, Faith and Philosophy 4: 294-303.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Abstract: This essay presents a moral argument for the rationality of theistic belief. If all I have to go on morally are my own moral intuitions and reasoning and those of others, I am rationally led to skepticism, both about the possibility of moral knowledge and about my moral effectiveness. This skepticism is extensive, amounting to moral despair. But such despair cannot be rational. It follows that the assumption of the argument must be false and I must be able to rely on more than my own human powers and those of others in attempting to live a moral life. The Christian God has such a function. Hence, if it is rational to attempt a moral life, it is rational to believe in the Christian God.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on philosophy of religion, metaethics or a course in which the epistemology of disagreement is relevant. This is a short, clear and simple paper which would be suitable for first year undergraduates.

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