There are two texts for the course: (a) T.M. Scanlon, What We Owe To Each Other (WWOTEO); and (b) Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (ELP). They are available for purchase at the University Book Store.

I am hopeful that the other readings listed below will be available on electronic reserve before the week for which they are assigned. If the Week #3 readings are not available on e-reserves in time, I will make other arrangements to make them available.) You must use a U.W. computer or have a U.W. connectivity kit to access Electronic Course Reserves. Go to the online U.W. Library Catalog ( and choose Course Reserves under my name or for PHIL 540. When the articles are available on e-reserve, I will add a link to the e-reserves Web page to the PHIL 540 course Website. I will also make available a master copy of the articles in the Philosophy Department Office, for those who would like to borrow the articles to copy them.

Week #1 (Jan. 6): Introduction

No assigned reading.

Week #2 (Jan. 13): The Failures of Moral Philosophy

Reading Assignment: (1) Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics, Book III, Chapter XIII, "Philosophical Intuitionism", pp. 373-390 (e-reserves).

(2) Williams ELP, Chaps. 1, 2, and 4.

Week #3 (Jan. 20): What Kinds of Things Are Reasons for Action?

Reading Assignment: (1) B. Williams, "Internal and External Reasons" (e-reserves).

(2) Scanlon WWOTEO, Chap. 1 and Appendix.

(3) Christine Korsgaard, "Skepticism About Practical Reason" (e-reserves).

Week #4 (Jan. 27): What, if any, is the Relation Between the Right and the Good?

Reading Assignment: (1) Williams ELP, Chap. 3

(2) Scanlon WWOTEO, Chaps. 2-3.

(3) T.M. Scanlon "Preference and Urgency" (e-reserves).

(4) Joseph Raz, The Morality of Freedom, Chapter 12, "Personal Well-Being" (e-reserves).

Week #5 (Feb. 3): What Kind of Things are Moral Reasons?

Reading Assignment: (1) John Mackie, excerpt from Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (e-reserves).

(2) Williams ELP, Chaps. 7-8.

(3) Scanlon WWOTEO, Chap. 4.

(4) Jean Hampton, "Rethinking Reason" (e-reserves).

Week #6 (Feb. 10): What is Scanlon's Version of Contractualism? Is it Viciously Circular?

(1) Reading Assignment: Scanlon WWOTEO, Chaps. 5 and 7.

(2) T.M. Scanlon, "Contractualism and Utilitarianism" (e-reserves).

Week #7 (Feb. 17): What Other Problems are There for Scanlon's Version of Contractualism?

Reading Assignment:

General Problems for moral theory: (1) Williams ELP, Chaps. 5 and 6.

Two Special Problems: (a) The 'Ideal Theory' Problem of Rule Utilitarianism

(2) Liam Murphy, "The Demands of Beneficence (e-reserves).

(b) The Problem of Trying to Capture Moral Attitudes with Principles

(3) Annette Baier, "Sustaining Trust" (e-reserves).

Week #8 (Feb. 24): What, if any, is the Justification for Holding People Morally Responsible for Their Choices?

Reading Assignment: (1) Scanlon WWOTEO, Chap. 6.

(2) B. Williams, "Internal Reasons and the Obscurity of Blame" (e-reserves).

(3) Jay Wallace, Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments, Chaps. 2 and 3 (e-reserves).

Week #9 (Mar. 2): What Kinds of Moral Relativism, if any, are True?

Reading Assignment: (1) Williams ELP, Chap. 9.

(2) Scanlon WWOTEO, Chap. 8.

Week #10 (Mar. 9): What, if Anything, is the Use of Moral Theory?

Reading Assignment: (1) Williams ELP, Chap. 10 and Postscript.

(2) Scanlon WWOTEO, Chap. 8.

(3) T. M. Scanlon, "The Aims and Authority of Moral Theory" (e-reserves).