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Covering important philosophical issues aimed at today's students, paired articles "talk to each other," thus setting up a clear "pro-con" format. Each pair of readings features an introduction with a list of "Points to Ponder" which focuses students on the issues they’ll encounter as they read and ends with a conclusion entitled "The Continuing Debate" with subheads "What is New” and "Where to Find More" to encourage further study and discussion.
Debate 1: Ethics and Religion: Does Religion Undercut Ethics or Provide Vital Support for Ethics?
Religion Undercuts Ethics.
Advocate: James Rachels. Source: “God and Human Experience.”
Religion Provides Vital Support for Ethics.
Advocate: George N. Schlesinger.
Source: New Perspectives on Old-Time Religion.
Debate 2: Reason, Objectivity, and Ethics: Can Reason Guide Us to Objective Ethical Truths?
Reason Cannot Discover Ethical Truths.
Advocate: Bernard Williams.
Source: Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.
Reason Can Discover Ethical Truths.
Advocate: Thomas Nagel.
Source: The Last Word.
Debate 3: Is Ethics Based on a Social Contract?
Social Contract Theory Offers the Best Grounds for Ethics.
Advocate: David Gauthier.
Source: “Why Contractarianism?”
Social Contract Theory is an Inadequate Account of Ethics.
Advocate: Jean Hampton.
Source: “Two Faces of Contractarian Thought.”
Debate 4: Can Consequentialism Make Room for Friendship?
Consequentialism Can Accommodate the Value of Friendship.
Advocate: Peter Railton.
Source: “Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality.”
Consequentialism Leaves No Room for Friendship.
Advocate: Michael Stocker.
Source: “The Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories.”
Debate 5: Morality: Universal Principles of Justice or Specific Caring Relationships?
Caring Relationships Can Take Precedence.
Advocate: Virginia Held.
Source: “Caring Relations and Principles of Justice.”
Justice and Care Operate Together.
Advocate: Claudia Card.
Source: “Particular Justice and General Care.”
Debate 6: Do Moral Obligations Always Take Precedence?
We Should Limit the Demands of Morality.
Advocate: Susan Wolf.
Source: “Moral Saints.”
Following the Strongest Demands of Morality is a Worthwhile Goal.
Advocate: Robert Merrihew Adams.
Debate 7: Do Women Have a Distinctive Ethical Perspective?
Women Have a Distinctive Ethical Perspective.
Advocate: Annette Baier.
Source: “What Do Women Want in a Moral Theory?”
Gender Does not Distinguish Different Moral Perspectives.
Advocate: Marilyn Friedman.
Source: “Beyond Caring: The De-Moralization of Gender.”
Debate 8: Can Virtue Theory Offer Moral Direction?
Virtue Ethics Offers Effective Moral Guidance.
Advocate: Rosalind Hursthouse.
Source: On Virtue Ethics.
Virtue Ethics Leaves Loose Ends.
Advocates: David Copp and David Sobel.
Source: “Morality and Virtue: An Assessment of Some Recent Work in Virtue Ethics.”
Debate 9: Does Contemporary Psychological Research Threaten Virtue Theory?
Virtue Theory is Undercut by Contemporary Psychological Research.
Advocate: Gilbert Harman.
Source: “Moral Philosophy Meets Social Psychology: Virtue Ethics and the Fundamental Attribution Error.”
Virtue Theory is not Damaged by Contemporary Psychological Research.
Advocate: James Montmarquet.
Source: “Moral Character and Social Science Research.”
Debate 10: Is Moral Psychology Relevant to Moral Philosophy?
Moral Psychology Requires Changes in Moral Philosophy.
Advocate: Mark L. Johnson.
Source: “How Moral Psychology Changes Moral Theory.”
Moral Psychology Has Little Effect on Moral Philosophy.
Advocate: Virginia Held.
Source: “Whose Agenda? Ethics Versus Cognitive Science.”
Debate 11: How Did Moral Behavior Develop?
Morality Developed as a Means of Controlling Powerful Group Members.
Advocate: Christopher Boehm.
Source: “Conflict and the Evolution of Social Control.”
Morality Developed to Protect Systems of Cooperative Exchange.
Advocate: Dennis Krebs.
Source: “As Moral as We Need to Be.”
Debate 12: Pragmatism and the Dispute Over Value Objectivity
There Are Truths About Values.
Advocate: Hilary Putnam.
Source: “Are Values Made or Discovered?”
There Are No Truths About Values.
Advocate: Richard Rorty.
Source: “Relativism: Finding and Making.”
Debate 13: Is Morality Relative to Culture or Objectively and Universally True?
Morality is Relative.
Advocate: Gilbert Harman.
Source: “Is There a Single True Morality?”
Morality is Objectively True.
Advocate: Carol Rovane.
Source: “Earning the Right to Realism or Relativism in Ethics.”
Debate 14: Is Cultural Relativism a Helpful Approach to Ethics?
Ethical Cultural Relativism Should be Rejected.
Advocate: Ruth Macklin.
Source: Against Relativism: Cultural Diversity and the Search for Ethical Universals in Medicine.
Ethical Cultural Relativism Has Some Advantages.
Advocate: Elvin Hatch.
Source: “The Good Side of Relativism.”
Debate 15: Is Morality an Ideological Illusion?
Close Examination of Morality Reveals its Ideological Nature.
Advocate: Anthony Skillen.
Source: “Is Morality a Ruling Illusion?”
The Objectivity of Morality Remains an Open Possibility.
Advocate: Peter Railton
Source: “Morality, Ideology, and Reflection; or, The Duck Sits Yet.”
Debate 16: Is Partiality Toward Fellow Citizens Morally Justified?
Partiality Toward Fellow Citizens Should be Very Limited.
Advocate: Jeff McMahan.
Source: “The Limits of National Partiality.”
Significant Partiality Toward Fellow Citizens is Justified.
Advocate: Thomas Hurka.
Source: “The Justification of National Partiality.”
Debate 17: Is Moral Responsibility Morally Justified?
Moral Responsibility is Morally Legitimate.
Advocate: Daniel C. Dennett.
Source: Freedom Evolves.
Moral Responsibility is Ultimately Unjustified.
Advocate: Saul Smilansky.
Source: “Compatibilism: The Argument from Shallowness."