Ethicists who matter

If I ever become a philosophy professor, there’s a good chance that at some point I will have to teach a class on ethics, because classes on ethics are in much higher demand than classes on most other areas of philosophy. And if I do that, I think I might seriously consider seeing if I can get away with teaching an entire class on Peter Singer.

Why? Because Singer consistently writes about stuff that matters. He has a tendency to write urging readers to make radical changes in their lives, whether it’s becoming a vegan or donating 10% or more of their income to charity. And when he’s not urging people to do things that will significantly impact their day-to-day lives, he’s at least urging them to rethink how they think about some very important decisions they’ll have to make at some point in their lives.

But of course there are advantages to exposing students to a wide range of authors. So: who else goes in the hypothetical intro ethics course? Peter Unger is similar to Singer in his writings on charity, though doesn’t cover as great a range of topics. G.E.M. Anscombe is a candidate I like more: coined the term “consequentialism,” though she was against it, in fact she publicly opposed Oxford’s decision to grant an honorary degree to Harry Truman on the grounds that dropping the atomic bomb on Japan made him a mass murderer. I think Anscombe would be a good counterpoint to Singer.

Who else? Judith Jarvis Thompson, probably. Anyone else?

"Atomsk - Yes, I think the way I feel about it is normal. I think ..."

Let’s talk about violent pornography
"The Scientific Method works by testing a hypothesis for implications, contradictions, and ridiculous/false results. You ..."

Pulling some devastating punches: a review ..."
"A bit OT: Found this article and it is imo closely related to the issue ..."

Let’s talk about violent pornography
"Just one thing for now, because it takes quite a bit of time to think ..."

Let’s talk about violent pornography

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment