Crash Course: Consequentialism & Deontology in Contemporary Normative Ethics


We’re going to try to solicit recommendations for a “crash course” on an aspect of contemporary ethics.

As with other installments in the crash course series, the idea is to come up with a set of primary readings a person could reasonably complete in 1-3 weeks that provides a sense of the central developments and matters of dispute in the selected area, as background to further study in it. Here’s a great example of the kind of answer we’re looking for, from our crash course on the epistemology of disagreement; note that it contains several works, organized in a particular order.

photograph by Derek Parfit

Today’s crash course topic—consequentialism and deontology in contemporary normative ethics—is quite a bit broader than our last one on the epistemology of disagreement, so it may be useful to give commenters some options about what to focus on: (1) contemporary consequentialist theories, (2) contemporary deontological theories, (3) a combination of 1 & 2, and (4) the important loci of disagreement between contemporary consequentialists and deontologists. In providing your answer, please let us know which of these best describes your recommendations. (Also, I think we should assume that the person taking your crash course has taken an introductory level course that covered the basic elements of the moral philosophies of major historical figures, such as Aristotle, Kant, and Mill.)

As I’ve noted in previous installments, some online resources (such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and PhilPapers) are quite helpful in learning about these areas, as are some textbooks. But I ask that commenters limit their suggestions here to substantive primary works on the subject—books and articles—keeping in mind that it’s supposed to be a crash course and not a semester’s worth of readings.

Thanks for your suggestions.

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