Philosophy 3100 - Ethical Theory

Readings and Reading Questions

(see syllabus for reading due dates, if not listed below)


All readings by Huemer are from our book (Huemer's Ethical Intuitionism). For readings not in our book, click on the link for a pdf of the reading.


  1. Huemer, Introduction.
  2. Ayer, “Critique of Ethics and Theology,” from Language, Truth and Logic (1936), pp. 102-113 (rest optional).
  3. Van Cleve, "Necessity, Analyticity, and the A Priori," from Problems from Kant (1999), pp. 15-27 (rest optional).
  4. Huemer, §§2.2, 2.3, 2.8 (rest of ch. 2 optional)
  5. Hume, excerpts on subjectivism from A Treatise of Human Nature (1740), bk. 3, pt. 1, sec. 1; and An Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751), app. 1.
  6. Moore, "The Nature of Moral Philosophy," from his Philosophical Studies (1922), pp. 329-334 (rest optional).
  7. Plato, excerpt from Euthyphro (380 BCE).
  8. Moore, §§5-13 from Principia Ethica (1903). Pay special attention to §13 (including both "(1)" and "(2)"). You can skip §§8, 11, 12, 14.
  9. Hare, "Naturalism," ch. 5 from The Language of Morals (1952). Pay special attention to the main argument, which appears in §5.4.
  10. Ross, "What Makes Right Acts Right?" from The Right and the Good (1930). Required for now: big paragraph on pp. 19-20; p. 29 (middle of page) - p. 34 (very top, until the break); p. 39 (from the break) - p. 41 (to the break).
  11. Mackie, "The Subjectivity of Values," ch. 1 of Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (1977).
  12. Martinich, excerpt from Philosophical Writing (2005).
  13. Paper Guidelines.
  14. Mill, excerpts from Utilitarianism (1863).
  15. Feldman, "What is Act Utilitarianism?" from his Introductory Ethics (1978).
  16. Feldman, "Act Utilitarianism: Arguments Pro and Con," from his Introductory Ethics (1978). Required: "The 'Too High for Humanity' Objection" (pp. 36-38) and "The 'Lack of Time' Objection" (pp. 38-41). Rest optional.
  17. Feldman, "Problems for Act Utilitarianism," from his Introductory Ethics (1978).
  18. Sinnott-Armstrong, "Consequentialism," section 5. 
  19. Heathwood, "Welfare," from The Routledge Companion to Ethics (2010).
  20. Bentham, excerpt from An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1781). Optional sections: ch. 1, §§VII-X; ch. 4, §§IV-VIII.
  21. Nozick, "The Experience Machine," from Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974). 
  22. Parfit, "What Makes Someone's Life Go Best?" from Reasons and Persons (1984). Section J not required.
  23. Ross, "What Things Are Good?" from The Right and the Good (1930).
  24. Kant, excerpts from Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals (1785), from the version by presented by Jonathan Bennett at
    Required: p. 10 (righthand side, from the break) - p. 12 (righthand side, 1/4 of the way down); p. 24 (lefthand side, from "So there is only ...") - p. 26 (righthand side, two lines from top); and p. 29 (lefthand side, from the break) - p. 30 (righthand side, one line from top).
  25. Feldman, "Kant I," from his Introductory Ethics (1978).
  26. McNaughton and Rawling, "Deontology," from D. Copp (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory (Oxford University Press, 2006). You can skip sections 4 and 5.2, if you wish.
  27. Ross,"What Makes Right Acts Right?" from The Right and the Good (1930). Same document as #10 above. Read from the beginning of the chapter to p. 42 (two lines up from the bottom).
  28. Sidgwick, excerpts from The Methods of Ethics (1907), III.VI.5-9 and III.XI.6.
  29. Foot, "The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of Double Effect," Oxford Review 5 (1967): 5-15.
  30. Thomson, "Killing, Letting Die, and the Trolley Problem," The Monist 59 (1976): 204-217.
  31. Greene, "The Secret Joke of Kant’s Soul," in W. Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology, Vol. 3: The Neuroscience of Morality (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2007). Required: pp. 35-46, 66-77. Rest recommended, but optional.