Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Great Contemporary Essays in Ethics

The Crooked Timber has a post this week requesting recommendations for superlative essays in applied ethics that are also accessible to non-philosophers. I've had the privilege of reading many (though definitely not all) listed there, and if you're interested in reading what philosophers think about many practical moral issues, I suggest taking a look, here.

For my part, I can recommend the following. I'm not posting links to the articles, because very few are open access. However, if you have access to a library, you probably have access to JSTOR, and if you have access to JSTOR, you have access to all of these articles.
  • Utilitarianism
    — "A Critique of Utilitarianism" by Bernard Williams

  • Moral Relativism
    — "Moral Relativism Defended" by Gilbert Harman

  • Euthanasia
    — "Against the Right to Die" by David Velleman
    — "Death" by Thomas Nagel

  • Abortion
    — "A Defense of Abortion" by Judith Thomson
    — "A Kantian Argument Against Abortion" by Harry Gensler

  • War
    — "War and Massacre" by Thomas Nagel
    — "The Problem of Dirty Hands" by Michael Walzer

  • Super Interesting (and oddly convincing...)
    — "The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant" by Nick Bostrom
The great thing about applied ethics is that so many of its philosophers are truly excellent writers--an aspect sorely lacking in much philosophical writing.

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