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PH 107 - Ethical Theory

Suggested Readings For Ethical Theory

Moral Relativism

Anthropology and the Abnormal by Ruth Benedict
This reading is published in An Anthropologist at work: writings of Ruth Benedict on pages 262-283. It was originally published in the Journal of General Psychology, v. 10 (1934), pp. 59-82. Library Call #: GN6.B4 (on Reserve; ask at Circulation Desk)

Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong by J.L. Mackie
Library Call #: BJ37 .M24 1990 (on Reserve; ask at Circulation Desk)

Folkways: A Study of the Sociological Importance of Usages, Manners, Customs, Mores, and Morals by W.G. Sumner
Library Call #: GT75.S8 (on Reserve; ask at Circulation Desk)


A Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume
Online version is from the McMaster University Archive.
Books 2 & 3 are of special interest. The Geisel Library also has several editions:
See B1485 .S47 1978, for example.

Language, Truth and Logic by A.J. Ayer
Library Call #: B53 .A9 (on Reserve; ask at Circulation Desk)

Ethics and Language by Charles L. Stevenson
Library Call #: BJ37 .S74 (on Reserve; ask at Circulation Desk)

Emotive Meaning of Ethical Terms by Charles L. Stevenson
This article was published in the journal: Mind, New Series, Vol. 46, No. 181. (Jan., 1937), pp. 14-31.

Emotive Theory of Ethics by J.O. Urmson
Library Call #: BJ37 .U7 1968 (on Reserve; ask at Circulation Desk)

Egoism and Social Contract Theory

Plato's Republic, Book 2
The online text is based on the 1969 Harvard University Press edition translated by Paul Shorey. Several translations of this text are available in the Geisel Library. The call number for the Jowett edition is: JC71 .P35 1944.

Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
This electronic version of Hobbes's Leviathan from The Online Library of Liberty has been reprinted from the 1651 edition (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909). A paper edition, edited by Richard Tuck (1991), is available in Geisel Library. Call number: JC153 .H65 1991

The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism by Ayn Rand
Library Call #: BJ1474 .R3 1970 (on Reserve; ask at Circulation Desk)


Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill
This electronic version of Mill's work (1861) is available through the University of Virginia Library and has been reprinted from the 1901 Longman's edition. A paper edition, edited by Oskar Piest (1957), is available in Geisel Library, call number: B1571.M6 1957.

An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation by Jeremy Bentham
An online text from the 1907 Oxford edition.
Also available in the Geisel Library: B1574 .B33 I5

Province of Jurisprudence Determined by John Austin
Library Call #: K230.A86 P76 1995 (on Reserve; ask at Circulation Desk)

The Language of Morals by R.M. Hare
Library Call #: BJ1025.H3


Critique of Practical Reason by Immanuel Kant
Library Call #: B2758.B353 (on Reserve; ask at Circulation Desk)

Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant
A complete, paper edition, translated by Mary Gregor (1991), is available in Geisel Library, call number: B2785.E5 G74 1991. This text is also available in Ethical Philosophy: the complete texts. edited by James W. Ellington (1983), call number: B2766.E6E44 1983

Virtue-Based Ethics

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory by Alasdair MacIntyre
Library Call #: BJ1012.M325 (on Reserve; ask at Circulation Desk)

Gorgias by Plato
The online text is translated by Benjamin Jowett
The Geisel Library owns several translations, including the 1952 Helmold edition:
B371.A5 H4

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle
This online version from M.I.T. is a translation by W.D. Ross and is divided into the ten books. There are several paper editions of this work in Geisel Library. One such, with introduction, translation and notes by Terence Irwin (1985), is call number: B430.A5I79.

Virtues and Vices by Philippa Foot
Library Call #: BJ1012.F57 (on Reserve; ask at Circulation Desk)

Natural Law Theory

Apology by Plato
This online text is the Jowett edition.
Several print editions are available in the library, for example: PA4279.A8R6

Crito by Plato
This online text is the Jowett edition.
The library owns several print editions, such as The Works Of Plato selected and edited by Irwin Edman Library Call #: B358 .J85 1956

De Officiis by Cicero
The Geisel Library owns several translations including this 1956 Harvard University Press edition Library Call #: PA3612.C45 O38

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III by Thomas Aquinas
The online text is an annotated translation with some abridgment.
The library owns several editions, including the University of Notre Dame Press edition: BX1749.T4 1975

Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas
In particular, please consult Part II Sections I and II of this online Benziger Bros. edition.
Library Call #: BX1749 .T5 1947


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Reference Resources (selected) For Ethical Theory

These resources are located in the Reference Department on the Main Level of the Geisel Library.

Core Resources

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
     Ref B51.R68 (print version, 10 vols.)

Oxford Companion to Philosophy
(online 2005, edited by Ted Honderich)

Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics
     Ref BJ63 .A66 1998
Includes a number of relevant entries, including whistle-blowing, corporations-environmental compliance, and business ethics-corporate responsibility.


Dictionary of the History of Ideas
     Ref CB5 .D52
See index: Ethics

Dictionary of Moral Theology
     Ref BJ1249 .R723

Encyclopedia of Ethics
     Ref BJ63 .E45 1992

     Ref BJ63 .E75 1994

History of Greek Philosophy
     Ref B171 .G83 1962

Philosophical Dictionary
     Ref B43 .B713

Political Philosophy
     Ref JA71 .P6226 2001


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Indexes And Databases (selected) For Ethical Theory

Philosopher's Index
This is a comprehensive information finding tool for books, chapters and scholarly journal articles pertaining to all aspects of ethical theory. It is possible to search by keyword, author, and subject. Coverage is from 1940 to the present and is international in scope. Please refer to the handout Developing a sample search statement (PDF/50KB) for suggestions. For help in using Philosopher's Index and identifying appropriate journals, please ask for help at the library reference desk.


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Journal Titles (selected) For Ethical Theory

  • American Philosophical Quarterly
  • Ethics
  • Ethics and International Affairs
  • International Philosophical Quarterly
  • Journal of Social Philosophy
  • Mind
  • Monist
  • Philosophical Studies
  • Ratio
  • Synthese
  • Thomist
  • Utilitas

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Websites (selected) For Ethical Theory

Searching the World Wide Web can yield a vast amount of information, but in terms of quality and reliability, your results may be uneven at best. The ease and speed with which individuals can publish information on the web, regardless of accuracy or quality, makes it imperative that when doing research on the web you know how to evaluate the information you find.


Ethics Updates: Classic texts in Ethics

Ethics Updates: Glossary
Prepared by Lawrence M. Hinman, the two websites noted above provide basic texts and a glossary for the study of ethical theory.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Consult entries on 'Ethics', as well as names of theories and names of philosophers.

Moral Relativism

Internet Philosophical Resources on Moral Relativism
This comprehensive site, again from Hinman's 'Ethics Updates', includes full-text essays, a survey, PowerPoint presentation, bibliographical survey, and more.

Egoism and Social Contract Theory

Egoist archive
Points to Stirnerite egoist resources available on the internet.

Survey of selected Internet resources on ethical egoism
Contains a helpful essay on the literature of ethical egoism.


Classical Utilitarianism
From Paul Lyon, University of Texas at Austin

Ethics Updates: Utilitarianism

Jeremy Bentham Links
From the 'utilitarian philosophers' series, includes electronic writings, as well as biographical and critical information about Bentham's writings.

John Stuart Mill Links
From the 'utilitarian philosophers' series, includes electronic writings, as well as biographical and critical information about Mill's writings.

Peter Singer Links
Peter Singer is a professor of Bioethics at Princeton University.

R.M. Hare
Highlights of Hare's achievements from the Peter Singer pages.

Utilitarian Philosophers
Includes writings by David Hume, Jeremy Bentham, William Godwin, James Mill, J.S. Mill, Henry Sidgwick, R. M. Hare, and Peter Singer.


Ethics Updates: Kant and Kantian Ethics

Virtue-Based Ethics

Ethics Updates: Literature on Aristotle and Virtue Ethics

Natural Law Theory

Inner explorations
Good references on Aquinas


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