Philosophical Ethics

Moral philosophy is standardly divided into metaethics and normative ethics. Normative ethics concerns itself with the substantive ethical questions we all face, such as "What has value?" and "What are our moral obligations?" Metaethics, on the other hand, asks philosophical questions about ethics, rather than ethical questions per se. "What is value?" rather than "What has value?" And "What can make it the case that we ought to do something?" rather than "What ought we to do?"

I use the term 'philosophical ethics' to refer to the project of integrating metaethics and normative ethics in a systematic way, trying to gain insight into what is valuable and obligatory (normatively) by understanding what value and obligation are (metaethically). As I read them, the great systematic ethical philosophies, such as those of Aristotle, Kant, and Mill, can all be read as examples of philosophical ethics.

Course Materials for Philosophy 361

You can find all course materials for Philosophy 361 here.

Major Texts for Philosophy 361

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Also, check out the Perseus Project, an unbelievable treasure trove of ancient Greek texts, etc.

Jeremy Bentham, Principles of Morals and Legislation

Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, On Liberty, Autobiography, and The Subjection of Women.

Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals

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Last revised on September 3, 2007