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Module Reading List

Metaethics, 2021/22, Semester 2
Dr Darren Bradley
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

Module Reading List

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General readings

A. Useful background antologies, handbooks, selections, and monographs

1. Foundations of ethics : an anthology , ed. R. Shafer-Landau and T. Cuneo (Blackwell 2007).

2. Moral discourse and practice: some philosophical approaches, ed. S. Darwall, A. Gibbard, P. Railton (Oxford UP 1997).

3. The Routledge handbook of metaethics , ed. T. McPherson and D. Plunkett (Routledge 2017). (E-book available:

4. Chrisman, Matthew, What is this thing called metaethics  (Routledge 2017). (E-book available:

5. Miller, Alexander, Contemporary metaethics : an introduction (Polity Press 2013). (E-book:

6. van Roojen, Mark, Metaethics : a contemporary introduction (Routledge 2015) (E-book:

7. Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory, ed. David Copp (Oxford UP 2005).

8. Contemporary debates in moral theory, ed. James Dreier (Blackwell, 2005). (E-book:

9. Smith, Michael, The Moral Problem (Blackwell 1994). 

10. Essays on moral realism, ed. Geoffrey Sayre-McCord (Cornell UP 1988).

11. Oxford studies in metaethics, Vols 1-12, ed. R. Shafer-Landau (Oxford UP 2006-17).

12. New waves in metaethics, ed. M. Brady (Palgrave Macmillan 2010). (E-book available:

13. Blackburn, Simon, Essays in quasi-realism (Oxford UP 1993).

14. Gibbard, Allan, Thinking how to live (Harvard UP 2003).

15. Brink, David, Moral realism and the foundations of ethics (Cambridge UP 1989).

16. Shafer-Landau, Russ, Moral realism : a defence (Oxford UP 2003).

17. Korsgaard, Christine, The sources of normativity (Cambridge UP 1996).

18. Cuneo, Terence, The normative web : an argument for moral realism  (Oxford UP 2007). (E-book available:

B. Two extremely useful online tools you may want to consult whenever in doubt

1. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at

2. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy at

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Readings for specific topics

Readings marked ‘*’ are required readings; the rest are supplementary texts, which are recommended reading and can form the basis for your essays. Yet other suggestions may be made in the lecture materials.

For Lecture 1: Chrisman, Matthew: "Chapter 1: Four Key Issues", from What is this thing called metaethics , pp. 1-15. (E-book available: 

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1. Moral Error Theory

a) Mackie, J.L., Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (1977), ch.1. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva  

b) Joyce, Richard, The myth of morality (Cambridge UP 2001)

c) Brink, David, ‘Moral Realism and the Sceptical Arguments from Disagreement and Queerness,’ Australasian journal of philosophy. . 62 (1984): 111-25.

d) Olson, Jonas, 'In Defence of Moral Error Theory', in New waves in metaethics , ed. M. Brady (Palgrave Macmillan 2011), 62-84. (E-book:

e) Miller, Alexander, Contemporary metaethics : an introduction  (Polity Press 2013), ch. 6. (E-book:

f) Olson, Jonas, Moral error theory : history, critique, defence (Oxford University Press 2014).

g) Streumer, Bart, Unbelievable errors : an error theory about all normative judgements (Oxford University Press 2017).

h) Richard Rowland: 'Moral Error Theory and the Argument from Epistemic Reasons', Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy  7 (1) (January 2012). Open access:

i) Cowie, Cristopher, 'Good News for Moral Error Theorists: A Master Argument Against Companions in Guilt Strategies', Australasian journal of philosophy.  94 (2016): 115-130.

j) Olinder, Ragnar Francen, 'Moral Relativism, Error-Theory, and Ascriptions of Mistakes', Journal of philosophy. 110 (2013): 564-580.

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2. Non-Naturalist Moral Realism

a) Moore, G.E., 'The Subject-Matter of Ethics', Principia Ethica (Cambridge University Press 1903), ch. 1 (read pp. 1-21). (Also available online: 

b) Miller, Alexander, 'Moore's Attack on Ethical Naturalism', in Contemporary metaethics : an introduction (Polity Press 2013), ch. 2. (E-book:  

c) Hampton, Jean, The authority of reason (Cambridge University Press 1996), pp. 95-7, 111-12, 114, 207-14. (Also available in Foundations of ethics : an anthology, ch. 15.)  OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (afp 13/01/2020) 

d) Shafer-Landau, Russ, ‘Ethics as Philosophy: A Defence of Ethical Nonnaturalism’, in Metaethics after Moore , ed. T. Horgan and M. Timmons (Oxford University Press 2006), 209-232. (Also available in Foundations of ethics : an anthology, ch. 16.) 

e) Frankena, William, ‘The Naturalistic Fallacy,’ Mind. 48 (1939): 464-77.

f) Sturgeon, Nicholas, ‘Moore on Ethical Naturalism,’ Ethics. 113 (2003): 528-56.

g) Dancy, Jonathan, ‘Ethical Non-Naturalism,’ in The Oxford handbook of ethical theory, ed. Copp (2005). 

h) FitzPatrick, William, 'Robust Ethical Realism, Non-Naturalism and Normativity', in Oxford studies in metaethics. , Vol. 3 (2008), 159-205.

i) Shafer-Landau, Russ, Moral realism : a defence, chs. 3, 11.

j) Cuneo, Terence, The normative web : an argument for moral realism  (Oxford UP 2007), focus on pp. 89-99, 107-112, 115-123. (E-book available:

k) Kornblith, Hilary, 'Epistemic Normativity ', Synthese 94 (1993): 357-376. (Good to read in conjunction with Cuneo.)

l) Vayrynen, Pekka, 'The Supervenience Challenge to Non-Naturalism', in The Routledge handbook of metaethics , ed. T. McPherson and D. Plunkett (Routledge 2017), 170-184. (E-book available:

m) Dunaway, Billy, 'Realism and Objectivity', in The Routledge handbook of metaethics , ed. T. McPherson and D. Plunkett (Routledge 2017), 135-150. (E-book available:

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3. Naturalist Moral Realism

a) Railton, Peter, 'Naturalistic Realism in Metaethics', in The Routledge handbook of metaethics, ed. T. McPherson and D. Plunkett (Routledge 2017), 43-57. (E-book available:

b) Boyd, Richard, ‘How to Be a Moral Realist,’ in Essays on moral realism, ed. G. Sayre-McCord (Cornell UP 1988). 181-228. Focus on pp. 182-187, 196-210, 214-216.   

c) Railton, Peter, ‘Moral Realism’, Philosophical review. 95 (1986), 163-207. 

d) Brink, David O., Moral realism and the foundations of ethics (Cambridge UP, 1989). (See also his (1c) -- ‘Moral Realism and the Sceptical Arguments from Disagreement and Queerness,’ Australasian journal of philosophy. . 62 (1984): 111-25.)

e) Copp, David, Morality in a Natural World (Cambridge UP, 2007).

f) Paakkunainen, Hille, 'The "Just Too Different" Objection to Normative Naturalism", Philosophy compass. 13 (2018).

g) Horgan, Terry and Timmons, Mark, 'New Wave Moral Realism Meets Moral Twin Earth', Journal of Philosophical Research 16 (1991), 447-465. (Also available in Foundations of ethics : an anthology, ch. 38.)

h) Daniels, Norman, ‘Wide Reflective Equilibrium and Theory Acceptance in Ethics’, Journal of philosophy. 76 (1979): 256-282.

i) Sayre-McCord, Geoffrey, ‘Coherentist Epistemology and Moral Theory’, in Moral knowledge? : new readings in moral epistemology, ed. Sinnott-Armstrong & Timmons (Oxford UP 1996), 137-189.

j) Sturgeon, Nicholas, ‘Moral Explanations’,in Essays on moral realism , ed. G. Sayre-McCord (Cornell UP 1988).

k) Jackson, Frank, ‘The Supervenience of the Ethical on the Descriptive’, in his From metaphysics to ethics : a defence of conceptual analysis (Oxford University Press 1998), 118-129.

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4. Epistemic Problems

a) Street, Sharon, 'Does Anything Really Matter or Did We Just Evolve to Think So?', in Norton Introduction to Moral Philosophy, ed. Rosen, Byrne, Cohen, and Shiffrin (W. W. Norton & Company 2015), 685-695.     Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

b) Brink, David, ‘Moral Disagreement’, in Moral realism and the foundations of ethics (Cambridge University Press 1989), 198-209. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva  

c) Street, Sharon, 'A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value', Philosophical studies. 127 (2006): 109-166.

d) Wielenberg, Erik J., 'Recent Work: Ethics and Evolutionary Theory', Analysis. 76 (2016): 502-515. ( (A survey article.)

e) Vavova, Katia, 'Evolutionary Debunking of Moral Realism', Philosophy compass. 10 (2015): 104-116. ( (A survey article.)

f) Copp, David, 'Darwinian Skepticism about Moral Realism', Philosophical Issues 18 (2008), 186-206. 

g) Schafer, Karl, 'Evolution and Normative Skepticism', Australasian journal of philosophy. 88 (2010): 471-488.

h) Loeb, Don, 'Moral Realism and the Argument from Disagreement', Philosophical studies. 90 (1998): 281-303.

i) Enoch, David, 'How Is Moral Disagreement a Problem for Moral Realism? ', The journal of ethics. 13 (2009): 15-50.

j) Shafer-Landau, Russ,  Moral realism : a defence  (Clarendon Press 2003), Ch. 9, 215-227.

k Tersman, Folke, 'Debunking and Disagreement', Noûs. 51 (2017), 754-774. 

l) Rowland, Richard: 'The Significance of Significant Fundamental Moral Disagreement', Noûs. 51 (2017), 802-31. 

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5. Morality and Practical Reason

a) Foot, Philippa, ‘Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives’, Philosophical review. 81 (1972): 305-316. ( 

b) Williams, Bernard, ‘Internal and External Reasons’, in Williams, Moral luck : philosophical papers 1973-1980 . OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (SRJ 11/12/2017)  

c) Korsgaard, Christine, ‘Skepticism about Practical Reason’, Journal of philosophy. 83 (1986): 5-25.

d) Darwall, Stephen, 'Making the "Hard" Problem of Normativity Easier', in Weighing reasons , ed. E. Lord and B. Maguire (Oxford University Press 2016), 257-278. (E-book available:

e) McDowell, John, ‘Might There Be External Reasons? ’, in World, mind, and ethics : essays on the ethical philosophy of Bernard Williams, ed. Altham & Harrison (Cambridge UP 1995), 68-85

e) Smith, Michael: ‘The Externalist Challenge’, ch. 3 of The moral problem (Blackwell 1994). (Relevant to this topic are pp. 77-91.)

f) Shafer-Landau, Russ, Moral realism : a defence (Oxford University Press 2003), 176-214. 

g) Markovits, Julia, Moral reason (Oxford University Press, 2014).

h) Copp, David, ' Rationality and Moral Authority', Oxford studies in metaethics 10 (2015): 134-159.

i) Tresan, Jon, 'Question Authority: In Defense of Moral Naturalism without Clout', Philosophical studies. 150 (2010), 221-238.

j) Quinn, Warren, ‘Putting Rationality in its Place,’ in Quinn, Morality and action (Cambridge UP 1993), Ch. 12, 228-254. Available as an Online Course Reading in the VLE

k) Cuneo, Terence, 'Moral Naturalism and Categorical Reasons', in Ethical naturalism : current debates, ed. Nuccitelli & Seay (Cambridge UP 2012), 110-30. (E-book available:

Also relevant from other units are: 1(a)-(d), 1(h), 2(c), 2(h), 2(k), 3(a)-(c), 3(e)-(f), 7(a), 9(a)-(b), 9(e).

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6. Moral Motivation

a) Smith, Michael: ‘The Externalist Challenge’, ch. 3 of The moral problem  (Blackwell 1994), 60-91. OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (SRJ 11/12/2017) (For this unit, read pp. 60-77.)  

b) Zangwill, Nick, ‘Externalist Moral Motivation’, American philosophical quarterly. 40 (2003), 143-54.  

c) Brink, David, 'Externalist Moral Realism', Southern journal of philosophy, Suppl. Vol. 24 (1986), 22-43.

d) Svavarsdottir, Sigrun, 'How Do Moral Judgments Motivate? ', in Contemporary debates in moral theory, ed. James Dreier (Blackwell, 2005), 163-181.

e) Copp, David, 'Belief, Reason, and Motivation: Michael Smith’s The Moral Problem', Ethics. 108 (1997), 33–54.

f) Shafer-Landau, Russ, ‘A Defense of Motivational Externalism’, Philosophical studies. 97 (2000): 267-291.

g) Smith, Michael, ‘The Humean Theory of Motivation,’ Mind. 96 (1987): 36-61. (VLE)

h) Kennett, Jeanette, and Fine, Cordelia, 'Internalism and the Evidence from Psychopaths and 'Acquired' Sociopathy', in Moral psychology , ed. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (MIT Press 2008), 173-190. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva  

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7. Metaethical Relativism

a) Harman, Gilbert, ‘Moral Relativism Defended’, Philosophical review. 84 (1975), 3-22. ( 

b) Lyons, David, ‘Ethical Relativism and the Problem of Incoherence’, Ethics 86 (1976): 107-21. 

c) Olinder, Ragnar Francen, 'Some Varieties of Metaethical Relativism', Philosophy compass.  11 (2016): 529-540. (A survey article.)

d) Sturgeon, Nicholas, 'Relativism', in The Routledge companion to ethics , ed. J.Skorupski (Routledge 2010), 356-365. (A survey article. E-book available:

e) Harman, Gilbert, 'Moral Relativism Explained' (open access).

f) Wong, David, ' Pluralistic Relativism', Midwest studies in philosophy. 20 (1996): 378–399.

g) Wong, David, Natural moralities : a defense of pluralistic relativism (Oxford UP 2006). (E-book available:

h) Bommarito, Nicolas & King, Alex, 'Matilal's Metaethics', in Comparative Metaethics, ed. C. Marshall (Routledge 2019). (ebook:

i) Street, Sharon, 'How to Be a Relativist about Normativity' (unpublished; available at

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8. Expressivism

a) Ayer, A. J., 'Critique of Ethics and Theology', ch. 6 of Language, truth and logic (Dover Publications 1952), 102-114. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva  

b) Blackburn, Simon, 'Is Objective Moral Justification Possible on a Quasi-realist Foundation? ' Inquiry. 42 (1999), 213-28. ( 

c) Woods, Jack, 'The Frege-Geach Problem', in The Routledge handbook of metaethics , ed. T. McPherson and D. Plunkett (Routledge 2017), 226-242. (A survey article. E-book available: 

d) Bedke, Matt, 'Cognitivism and Non-Cognitivism', in The Routledge handbook of metaethics , ed. T. McPherson and D. Plunkett (Routledge 2017), 292-307. (A survey article. E-book-available:

e) Stevenson, Charles, ‘The Emotive Meaning of Ethical Terms’, Mind. 46 (1937): 14-31.

f) Blackburn, Simon, 'Evaluations, Projections, and Quasi-Realism', ch. 6 of Spreading the word : groundings in the philosophy of language (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984). (PDF scan available on Minerva.)

g) Blackburn, Simon, 'How to Be an Ethical Anti-Realist', Midwest Studies in Philosophy 12 (1988): 361-75. 

h) Miller, Alexander, Contemporary Metaethics: An Introduction, ch. 4 (“Blackburn’s Quasi-Realism”). (E-book:

i) Köhler, Sebastian, 'Expressivism and Mind-Dependence', Journal of moral philosophy. 11 (2014): 750-764.

j) Hare, R.M., The Language of Morals (Oxford University Press 1952). (E-book:

k) Schroeder, Mark, ‘How Expressivists Can and Should Solve Their Problem with Negation,’ Noûs 42 (2008): 573-99.

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9. Metaethical Constructivism

a) Korsgaard, Christine, 'The Authority of Reflection', ch. 8 in Foundations of ethics : an anthology, ed. R. Shafer-Landau and T. Cuneo (Blackwell 2007), 93-106. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva (An excerpt from Korsgaard, The sources of normativity [Cambridge University Press 1996].)  

b) Street, Sharon, 'Coming to Terms with Contingency: Humean Constructivism about Practical Reason', in Constructivism in practical philosophy, ed. James Lenman and Yonatan Shemmer (Oxford University Press, 2012), 40-59.  

c) Barry, Melissa, ' Constructivism', in The Routledge handbook of metaethics , ed. T. McPherson and D. Plunkett (Routledge 2017), 385-401. (A survey article. E-book available:

d) Bagnoli, Carla, 'Constructivism in Metaethics', The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>. (A survey article with an extensive bibliography.)

e) Street, Sharon, 'Constructivism about Reasons', Oxford studies in metaethics. 3 (Oxford University Press 2008), 207-245. (PDF scan available on Minerva.)

f) Street, Sharon, 'In Defense of Future Tuesday Indifference: Ideally Coherent Eccentrics and the Contingency of What Matters', Philosophical Issues 19 (2009).

g) Enoch, David, 'Agency, Shmagency: Why Normativity Won't Come from What is Constitutive of Agency', Philosophical review. , 115 (2006), 169-198.

h) Ferrero, Luca, 'Constitutivism and the Inescapability of Agency', Oxford studies in metaethics. 4 (2009): 303-333. (Available online:

i) Rosati, Connie, 'Agents and "Schmagents": An Essay on Agency and Normativity', Oxford studies in metaethics. 11 (2016): 182-213.(PDF scan available on Minerva.)

j) Korsgaard, Christine, Self-constitution : agency, identity, and integrity (Oxford University Press 2009). (E-book:

k) Various papers in  Constructivism in practical philosophy, ed. James Lenman and Yonatan Shemmer (Oxford University Press, 2012). (E-book:

This list was last updated on 20/04/2020