PHI 525 Recent Work in Metaethics and Moral Philosophy

After an introduction to the topic in the first session, we will work through some important papers in metaethics and normative ethics. The papers in normative ethics ask whether there are any partial reasons and, if so, what those partial reasons are and how significant they are vis a vis other reasons. The papers in metaethics ask what feature all reasons, whether partial or impartial, have in common that makes them reasons. In the first session I will introduce these two questions and provide my own answers to them. These answers will resurface from time to time in the weeks that follow. My main aim in the seminar is not, however, to convince anyone of these answers, but rather to get students to read and think about the answers provided in the papers. Students who wish to get a unit should email me so that we can arrange a meeting to discuss how they might proceed. All students will be encouraged to give presentations. Password-protected copies of the readings are available below. Email me and I will send the password.

Thursday 5 February 2015
Michael Smith "A Constitutivist Theory of Reasons: Its Promise and Parts"

Thursday 12 February 2015
Bernard Williams's "Integrity"
Susan Wolf "Moral Saints"

Thursday 19 February 2015
Peter Railton "Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality"

Thursday 26 February 2015
Philip Pettit "A Consequentialist Perspective on Contractualism"
Thomas M. Scanlon "A Contractualist Reply"

Thursday 5 March 2015
Cheshire Calhoun "The Virtue of Civility"

Thursday 12 March 2015
Bernard Williams "Internal and External Reasons"
Christine Korsgaard "Skepticism About Practical Reason"


Thursday 26 March 2015
Thomas M. Scanlon "Reasons"
Thomas M. Scanlon "Williams on Internal and External Reasons"

Thursday 2 April 2015
Harry Frankfurt "On Love, and Its Reasons"

Thursday 9 April 2015

Thursday 16 April 2015
Susan Wolf "The True, the Good, and the Lovable: Frankfurt's Avoidance of Objectivity"
David Velleman "Love as a Moral Emotion"

Thursday 23 April 2015
Niko Kolodny "Love as Valuing a Relationship"

Thursday 30 April 2015
Dean Cocking and Jeanette Kennett "Friendship and Moral Danger"