Today’s Moral Issues

7th Edition



Introduction: Moral Arguments


Making Moral Arguments

Exceptions to Moral Principles

Part I: First Principles

oTheoretical Approaches

Confucius, from The Analects*

Aristotle, from Nicomachean Ethics

St. Thomas Aquinas, from Summa Theologica

David Hume, from A Treatise of Human Nature

Immanuel Kant, from Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals

Jeremy Bentham, from Principles of Morals and Legislation

John Stuart Mill, from Utilitarianism

Nel Noddings, from Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education

oSexual Behavior

Bertrand Russell, "Our Sexual Ethics"

Thomas A. Mappes, "Sexual Morality and the Concept of Using Another Person"

Roger Scruton, from Sexual Desire

oSexual Orientation and Gay Marriage

Justice Byron White, Majority Opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick*

Justice Anthony Kennedy, Majority Opinion in Lawrence et al. v. Texas*

Massachusetts Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall and Justice Robert J. Cordy, Majority and Dissenting Opinions in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health *

Stanley Kurtz, “The Libertarian Question”*

Andrew Koppelman, from “The Decline and Fall of the Case against Same-Sex Marriage”*

Maggie Gallagher, from “(How) Will Gay Marriage Weaken Marriage as a Social Institution: A Reply to Andrew Koppelman”*


International League of the Rights of Animals, "Universal Declaration of the Rights of Animals"

Peter Singer, from Animal Liberation

Tom Regan, "The Case for Animal Rights"

R. G. Frey, "Moral Community and Animal Research in Medicine"*

oThe Environment

Garrett Hardin, from "The Tragedy of the Commons"

World Commission on Environment and Development, from Our Common Future*

Daniel Bonevac, "Is Sustainability Sustainable?" *

Part II: Liberty

oTheoretical Approaches

Aristotle, from Nicomachean Ethics

John Stuart Mill, from On Liberty

oDrug Legalization

Milton Friedman, "An Open Letter to Bill Bennett"

William J. Bennett, "A Response to Milton Friedman"

Ethan A. Nadelmann, "The Case for Legalization"

James Q. Wilson, "Against the Legalization of Drugs"


Chief Justice Warren Burger and Justice William O. Douglas, Majority and Dissenting Opinions in Miller v. California

Catherine MacKinnon, "Pornography, Civil Rights, and Speech"

The Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, "The Question of Harm"

Wendy McElroy, from Sexual Correctness

oOffensive Speech and Behavior

Plato, from The Republic

John Stuart Mill, from On Liberty

Stanley Fish, from "There's No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It's a Good Thing, Too"

Thomas Nagel, "Personal Rights and Public Space"*

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice John Paul Stevens, Majority and Dissenting Opinions in Morse v. Frederick

Part III: Rights and Responsibilities

oTheoretical Approaches

Thomas Hobbes, from Leviathan

John Locke, from Second Treatise of Government

Edmund Burke, from Reflections on the Revolution in France

John Stuart Mill, from Utilitarianism

United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Justice Harry Blackmun, Majority Opinion in Roe v. Wade

Judith Jarvis Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion"

Mary Anne Warren, "On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion"

Don Marquis, "Why Abortion Is Immoral"

Rosalind Hursthouse, "Virtue Theory and  Abortion" *

Francis J. Beckwith, "Personal Bodily Rights, Abortion, and Unplugging the Violinist" *

Alexander R. Pruss, “I Was Once a Fetus: That is Why Abortion Is Wrong"

oEuthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide

Supreme Court of New Jersey, Matter of Quinlan

J. Gay-Williams, "The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia"

Ronald Dworkin, Thomas Nagel, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, Thomas Scanlon, and Judith Jarvis Thomson, "The Brief of the Amici Curiae"

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Majority Opinion in Washington v. Glucksberg et al.

Toon Quaghebeur, Bernadette Dierckx de Casterlé, and Chris Gastmans, "Nursing and Euthanasia: A Review of Argument-Based Ethics Literature" *

oCapital Punishment

Cesare Beccaria, from On Crimes and Punishment

Justice William Brennan, Concurring Opinion in Furman v. Georgia

Justices Stewart, Powell, and Stevens, Majority Opinion in Gregg v. Georgia

Ernest van den Haag, from The Death Penalty: A Debate

Hugo Adam Bedau, "The Case against the Death Penalty"

Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule, "Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? The Relevance of Life-Life Tradeoffs"

Carol S. Steiker, "No, Capital Punishment Is Not Morally Required: Deterrence, Deontology, and the Death Penalty" *


St. Thomas Aquinas, "Whether It Is Always Sinful to Wage War"

Francisco de Vitoria, from The Law of War on Indians

Hugo Grotius, from On the Law of War and Peace

Carl von Clausewitz, On the Nature of War

Mahatma Gandhi, "Non-Violence in Various Aspects"

Richard A. Posner and Gary Becker, "Preventive War"

Part IV: Justice and Equality

oTheoretical Approaches

Aristotle, from Nicomachean Ethics

Aristotle, from Politics

John Locke, from Second Treatise of Government

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, from Discourse on the Origin of Inequality

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, from On the Social Contract

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, from Manifesto of the Communist Party

Karl Marx, from “Estranged Labor, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844

Karl Marx, from Critique of the Gotha Program

John Rawls, “Justice as Fairness

Robert Nozick, from Anarchy, State, and Utopia

oEconomic Equality

John Stuart Mill, from Principles of Political Economy

John Hospers "What Libertarianism Is"

Amartya Sen, "Equality of What?" *

Charles Murray, from Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980

Elizabeth S. Anderson, "What Is the Point of Equality?" *

Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, “Air Conditioning, Cable TV, and an XBox: What Is Poverty is the United States Today?” *

oAffirmative Action

Chief Justice Earl Warren, Majority Opinion in Brown v. Board of Education

Justice Lewis Powell, Majority Opinion in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke

Antonin Scalia, "The Disease as a Cure"

Bernard R. Boxill, from Blacks and Social Justice

Thomas Sowell, "'Affirmative Action': A Worldwide Disaster"

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Majority Opinion in Gratz v. Bollinger

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Majority Opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger


Immanuel Kant, from Perpetual Peace

Garrett Hardin, “Living on a Lifeboat”

Robert D. Putnam, “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century”

Michael Huemer, “Is There a Right to Immigrate?” *

Asterisks denote readings new to this edition.



  1. 1.First Principles

  2. 2.Liberty

  3. 3.Rights and Responsibilities

  4. 4.Justice and Equality

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