Philosophy 429: ETHICAL ANALYSIS

Fall, 2009, TuTh 2:30–4, 2271 Angell Hall.

Allan Gibbard, HUgibbard@umich.eduUH, phone 764-6892, office Angell Hall 2187.

A current version of this syllabus will be kept posted at

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~gibbard/Syllabus09f-Phil-429.pdf

This will be a course in contemporary metaethics. Metaethics is concerned with what ethical claims mean, and with the kinds of reasoning or evidence that justify ethical claims. The course will take up the ethical intuitionism of Moore and Ross, the emotivism of Ayer and Stevenson, Hare’s universal prescriptivism, and recent proposals such as Rawls’ theory of reflective equilibrium, Brandt’s linguistic reform, new versions of “moral realism”, moral “expressivism” with “quasi-realism”.  Students should already have some background in moral philosophy in the twentieth century “analytic” tradition, preferably Philosophy 361 or the equivalent.

Book to buy:

Stephen Darwall, Allan Gibbard, and Peter Railton, eds.  Moral Discourse and Practice:  Some Philosophical Approaches  (Oxford University Press, 1997).  Many readings will be from this collection, which I’ll label DGR.

Other readingss will be in CTOOLS (marked [CT]) or otherwise obtainable electronically (marked [E]), often through links in the on-line copy of the syllabus. 

Classes will consist both of lecture and of discussion, along with other oral activities and brief writings. Three short (5 page) papers will be required (due dates Oct. 6, Nov. 17, and Dec. 8). There will be a mid-term exam (Oct. 27) and a final examination (Wed. Dec. 17, 4–6 p.m.).

[A few things should go without saying, but with apologies for what I hope must be an insult to your intelligence, I spell them out: (1) The work must be your own, and academic dishonesty would result in failing the course. (2) All requirements of the course must be met if you are to receive a passing grade for the course. (3) Regular attendance of class sessions is required.  Also, please make sure that you will be able to be at the final exam.]


0BSyllabus (subject to revision)                               

1BIntuitionism, the “Naturalistic Fallacy”

7BTue. Sept. 8 (wk. 1):

·         Introduction; no readings.

8BThu. Sept. 10 (wk. 1): NO CLASS (I’m at a conference)

9BTue. Sept. 15 (wk. 2):

·         G.E. Moore, from Principia Ethica (1903), DGR 2, 51–63.

·         Henry Sidgwick, HUThe Methods of EthicsUH (1874, 7th ed. 1901), Bk. I, Ch. 3, sec. 3 (pp. 31–35). [E]

·         Frankena, “HUThe Naturalistic FallacyUH” (1939).  Mind, New Series, Vol. 48, No. 192, Oct. 1939, pp. 464–477. [E]

·         Nakhnikian, “On the Naturalistic Fallacy” (1963).  In Hector-Neri Castaneda and George Nakhnikian, Morality and the Language of Conduct (Detroit: Wayne State University Press), 145–158.  [CT]

10BThu. Sept. 17:

·         Prichard, “HUDoes Moral Philosophy Rest on a Mistake?UH” (1912).  Mind, New Series, Vol. 21, No. 81, pp. 21–37. [E]

·         Ross, The Right and the Good (1930), Ch. 1 (pp. 1–15). [CT]

2BJustification, Dispositionalism

Tue. Sept. 22 (wk. 3):

·         Ewing, “HUA Suggested Non-Naturalistic Definition of GoodUH” (1939).  Mind, New Series, Vol. 48, No. 189, Jan. 1939, pp. 1–22. [E]

·         Brandt, “HUMoral ValuationUH” (1946).  Ethics, Vol. 56, No. 2, Jan. 1946, 106–121. [E]

11BThu. Sept. 24:

·         Firth, “HUEthical Absolutism and the Ideal ObserverUH” (1952).  Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 12, No. 3, Mar., 1952, pp. 317–345. [E]

·         Brandt, Ethical Theory, Ch. 10 (pp. 241–69).  [CT]

3BEmotivism, Prescriptivism

Tue. Sept. 29 (wk. 4):

·         Ogden and Richards, The Meaning of Meaning (1923), pp. 123–126 of 5th edition (1938). [CT]

·         Barnes, W. H. F., “HUA Suggestion about ValueUH” (1934).  Analysis 1:3 (March), pp. 45–46  [E]

·         Ayer, A. J., Language, Truth, and Logic (1936), pp. 102–114. [CT]

12BThu. Oct 1:

·         Stevenson, “The Emotive Meaning of Ethical Terms” (1937), DGR 4.

13BTue. Oct. 6 (wk. 5):  FIRST SHORT PAPER DUE

14BThu. Oct. 8:

·         Hare, Moral Thinking (1981), 1.6 (pp. 20–24), 3.4–3.9 (pp. 52–64), 5.3–5.4 (pp. 94–99), 6.1–6.2 (pp. 107–111), 10.710.8 (pp. 182–7).   [CT]

*Tue. Oct. 13 (wk. 6):

·         Hare, The Language of Morals (1952), 7.5 and 8 (pp. 121–36), 9.4 (pp. 148–9).  [CT]

·         Geach, Peter (1965).  HUAssertionUH”.  Philosophical Review 74, 449–465.  (See especially 463–465.)   [E]

4BJustification, Dispositionalism, Naturalistic Moral Realism

16BThu. Oct. 15: 

·         Rawls, A Theory of Justice (1971), sec. 9 (pp. 46–53).  [CT]

·         Brandt, A Theory of the Good and the Right (1979),  pp. 10–16, 110–115, 126–129, 163–176, 193–195.  [CT]

*Tue. Oct. 20 (wk. 7):  NO CLASS (Fall Break)

18BThu. Oct. 22:   

·         Railton, “Moral Realism” (1986), DGR 8.

·         Boyd, “How to be a Moral Realist” (1988), DGR 7.

18BFri. Oct. 23:   Extra sessions (in regular classroom)

·         Undergraduates only:  10–11 a.m.

·         Graduates:  11–12 a.m.

*Tue. Oct. 27 (wk. 8): MIDTERM EXAM

19BThu. Oct. 29:

·         Mackie, from Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (1977), DGR 6.

·         Harman, from The Nature of Morality (1977), DGR 5.

5BInternalism, Externalism, and Sensibility Theories

*Tue. Nov. 3 (wk. 9):

·         Darwall, “Reasons, Motives, and the Demands of Morality” (1996), DGR 17.

·         Foot, “Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives” (1972), DGR 18.

·         Williams, “Internal and External Reasons” (1981), DGR 21.

21BThu. Nov. 5:

·         McDowell, “Values and Secondary Qualities” (1985), DGR 11.

·         McDowell, “Projection and Truth in Ethics” (1987), DGR 12.

·         Wiggins, “A Sensible Subjectivism” (1987), DGR 13.

22BTue. Nov. 10 (wk. 10):

·         Blackburn, “How to be an Ethical Anti-Realist” (1988), DGR 9.

·         Rosen (1998).  HUCritical Study, “Blackburn’s Essays in Quasi-RealismUH”. Nous 32:3, 386–405.  [E]

23BThu. Nov. 12: NO CLASS.  (I’ll be at a conference.)

24BTue. Nov. 17 (wk. 11): SECOND SHORT PAPER DUE


 

25BThu. Nov. 19:

·         Gibbard, from Wise Choices, Apt Feelings (1990), DGR 10.

18BFri. Nov. 20:   Extra sessions (in regular classroom)

·         Undergraduates only:  10–11 a.m.

·         Graduates:  11–12 a.m.

Tue. Nov. 24 (wk. 12):

·         Horwich, “HUGibbard’s Theory of NormsUH” (1993), in Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 22, No. 1, Winter, 1993, pp. 67–78.  [E]

·         Dreier, “HUExpressivist Embeddings and Minimalist TruthUH” (1996).  Philosophical Studies 83, 29–51.   [CT]

·         Horwich, “The Frege-Geach Point” (2005).  Philosophical Issues 15, 78–93.   [CT]

27BThu. Nov. 26:  THANKSGIVING

6BExpressivism (again), Non-naturalism (again) or Quietism

28BTue. Dec. 1 (wk. 13):

·         Dworkin, “HUObjectivity and Truth: You’d Better Believe ItUH” (1996), pp. 87–139.  Philosophy and Public Affairs 25, issue 2.  [E]

Thu. Dec. 3:

·         Scanlon, What We Owe to Each Other (1998), 17–77.  [CT]

18BFri. Dec. 4:   Extra sessions (in regular classroom)

·         Undergraduates only:  10–11 a.m.

·         Graduates:  11–12 a.m.

Tue. Dec. 8 (wk. 14): THIRD SHORT PAPER DUE

30BThu. Dec. 10: Last class

·         Street, Sharon (2008).  “Constructivism about Reasons”.  Russ Shafer-Landau, ed., Oxford Studies in Metaethics 3 (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 207–245.   [CT]

FINAL EXAMINATION, Wednesday, December 16, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm in classroom