Introduction to Ethics

Taught Spring 2010
Taught Fall 2009
Taught Summer 2004


First Section: Is it Ever OK to Kill Innocent People? Consequentialism and Absolute-Rights Theories

Judith Jarvis Thomson, "The Trolley Problem"
James Rachels, "Active and Passive Euthanasia"
Winston Nesbitt, "Is Killing No Worse Than Letting Die?"
Judith Jarvis Thomson, "Physician-Assisted Suicide: Two Moral Arguments"

Second Section: Is Abortion Ever Permissible? The Nature of Rights and Problems at the Margins of Human Life

Judith Jarvis Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion"
Michael Tooley, Abortion and Infanticide (short selection)
Don Marquis, "An Argument that Abortion is Wrong"
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had: A Reply to Marquis on Abortion"
David Boonin, A Defense of Abortion (selection)

Third Section: Is it Wrong to Eat Meat? Problems at the Margins of Sentient Life

Tristram McPherson, "Why I am a vegan (and you should be one too)"
Peter Singer and Jim Mason, The Ethics of What We Eat (selections)
Peter Singer, Animal Liberation (selection)
Michael Pollan, "An Animal's Place"
Roger Scruton, "The Conscientious Carnivore"
Bryan Norton, "The Environmentalist's Dilemma: Dollars and Sand Dollars"
Elliott Sober, "Philosophical Problems for Environmentalism"

Fourth Section: General Theories of Permissibility, Blameworthiness, and Moral Luck

Doug Portmore, "Utilitarianism and Consequentialism: The Basics"
Derek Parfit, "Acting in Ignorance or with False Beliefs"
Bernard Williams, "Moral Luck"
Susan Wolf, "The Moral of Moral Luck"
Thomas Scanlon, Moral Dimensions: Permissibility, Meaning, Blame (short selection)

Fifth Section: Is it Wrong to Life a Luxurious Life While Others are Suffering and Dying?

Peter Unger, "Contextual Analysis in Ethics" (short selection)
Peter Singer, The Life You Can Save (selections)
David Lewis, "Illusory Innocence?"
Bill Clinton, Giving (selection)

Sixth Section: What Should We Do to Counteract Our Shortcomings and Biases?

Thomas Gilovich, Dacher Keltner, and Richard Nisbett, "The Milgram Experiments, the Fundamental Attribution Error, and the Prisoner's Dilemma" in Social Psychology
Nick Bostrom and Toby Ord, "The Reversal Test: Eliminating Status Quo Bias in Applied Ethics"