Skip to main content

Module Reading List

PPE First Year Seminar - Semester 2, 2017/18, Semester 2
Dr. Ulrike Heuer
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

Week 1 – Reading a philosophical text (Jan 22-26) 

Reading: Jim Pryor's guide to reading philosophy  

Set piece: Peter Singer (1989) ‘All animals are equal’ In Tom Regan & Peter Singer (eds.), Animal rights and human obligations ISBN: 0130375314; 0130375233. Oxford University Press. pp. 215-226  

We will spend session one reconstructing the argument, and assessing its validity. We will then spend session two considering possible responses to it. Please come to the first session with a clear idea of what Singer is trying to argue, and having given some thought to how we might formally reconstruct it.

Top of page

Week 2 - How to be good: Utilitarianism. (Jan 29-Feb 2)

John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism Chapters 2, 4 and 5.  

Discussion question: How, according to Mill, do we know which pleasures are ‘higher’? Is this a convincing argument?

Additional reading: Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, (2001) Mill's “Proof” of the Principle of Utility: A More than Half-Hearted Defense, Social philosophy and policy. ISSN: 0265-0525; 1471-6437 18(2): 330-360

Top of page

Week 3 – How to be good: Kantianism. (Feb 5-9)

Immanuel Kant, Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals ISBN: 0300094876 (pbk.) : £9.50; 0300094868 

Excerpt available in Additional Readings folder, but there are many free online versions, e.g. 

You may find Jonathan Bennett’s ‘translation’ to modern language useful. Please remember, though, that this is only one person’s interpretation, and is not a replacement for the original text. If you quote Bennett’s version, quote it as Bennett, not Kant.

Discussion question: Why does Kant think that only actions done from the ‘good will’ have full moral value?

Additional reading: Marcia Baron, ‘On the alleged repugnance of acting from duty’. Journal of philosophy. ISSN: 0022-362X, Vol. 81, No. 4 (Apr., 1984), pp. 197-220

Top of page

Week 4 – Liberty and equality (Feb 12-16)

Robert Nozick, Anarchy, state and utopia ISBN: 063119780X (pbk); 0631156801 Part II, Chapter 7 (‘Distributive Justice’) Section I. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva   

Discussion question: Is Nozick right to say that ‘liberty upsets patterns’?

Additional reading: Jonathan Wolff, ‘Political Philosophy and the Real World of the Welfare StateJournal of applied philosophy. ISSN: 0264-3758 32(4): 360-372

Top of page

Week 5 – Liberty and equality (Feb 19-23)

Jennifer McKitrick, (2006) ‘Liberty, Gender and the Family’ in Tibor R. Machan (ed.), Liberty and justice ISBN: 0817947027 (alk. paper). Stanford: Hoover Institution Press. pp. 83-103. OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (srj 10/01/2018)  Available in Additional Readings folder 

Discussion question: In a society like ours, does full respect for liberty mean disadvantaging women and children?

Additional reading: G.A. Cohen, ‘Robert Nozick and Wilt Chamberlain: How patterns preserve libertyErkenntnis. ISSN: 0165-0106 11: 5-23

Top of page

Week 6 – The Value of Democracy (Feb 26-Mar 2) 

Annabelle Lever, 'Compulsory Voting: A Critical PerspectiveBritish journal of political science. ISSN: 0007-1234 40: 897-915  


Caleb Crain, ‘The Case Against DemocracyThe New Yorker. ISSN: 0028-792X, November 2016  

Discussion question: Should voting be compulsory?

Top of page

Week 7 – Participation in Democracy (Mar 5-9)

Philip Cook ‘Against a Minimum Voting AgeCritical review of international social and political philosophy. ISSN: 1369-8230; 1743-8772 16 (3):439-458  

Discussion question: If children are not allowed to vote, does that mean that adults should only be allowed to vote if they pass certain tests?  

Additional reading: Jason Brennan, ‘Polluting the Polls: When Citizens should not vote Australasian journal of philosophy. ISSN: 0004-8402 87(4): 535-549

Top of page

Week 8 – Multiculturalism and tolerance (Mar 12-16)

Kok-Chor Tan (Forthcoming) ‘The Contours of Toleration: A relational account’ in Manuel Knoll & Stephen Snyder (eds.), New Perspectives on Distributive Justice. Available in Additional Readings folder. - Available online:

Discussion question: Does the appeal to relational morality solve the problem of toleration?

Additional reading: Erin Kelly and Lionel McPherson (2001) ‘On tolerating the unreasonableThe journal of political philosophy. ISSN: 0963-8016 9(1): 38–55.

BREAK Mar 17-Apr 15

Top of page

Week 9 – Multiculturalism and tolerance (Apr 16-20)

Susan Okin, ‘Feminism and Multiculturalism: Some tensionsEthics. ISSN: 0014-1704 108(4): 661-684  

Discussion question: Is Okin right to say that feminism must take precedence over multiculturalism?

Additional reading: Chandran Kukathas, (2001) ‘Is feminism bad for multiculturalism?’ Public Affairs Quarterly 15(2): 83-98. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva  Available in additional readings folder. 

Top of page

Week 10 – Political Obligation (Apr 23-27)

Hanna Pitkin, (1965) ‘Obligation and Consent – IThe American political science review. ISSN: 0003-0554 59(4): 990-999, and

(1966) ‘Obligation and Consent – II’, The American political science review. ISSN: 0003-0554, 60(1): 39-52. Read from Section III (starts on p.45).

Discussion question: ‘We should obey the law because we consented to do so’. Discuss.

Additional reading: Bhiku Parekh, (1993) ‘A Misconceived Discourse on Political ObligationPolitical studies. ISSN: 0032-3217; 1467-9248 41: 236-251

Top of page

Week 11 – Disobedience (Apr 30-May 4) 

Nelson Mandela, (1964) Statement in the Rivonia Trial (excerpts). Available in Additional Readings folder and online:


Candice Delmas (2014) ‘Political Resistance: A Matter of Fairness’.

 Discussion question: What limits does Mandela claim were placed on the ANC’s political violence? Are these reasonable?

This list was last updated on 08/01/2018