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89 Ethic Resources and Recommended Reads

89 Ethic Resources and Recommended Reads
Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that “involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior”. The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns matters of value; these fields comprise the branch of philosophy called axiology. The aim of ethics has been viewed in different ways: according to some, it is the discernment of right from wrong actions; to others, ethics separates that which is morally good from what is morally bad; alternatively, ethics purports to devise the principles by means of which conducting a life worth to be lived. Ethics has been divided traditionally into three areas concerning how we ought to conduct ourselves. The three major types of ethics are Metaethics, Applied Ethics and Normative Ethics.

  • Metaethics – Questions of moral language, psychology, phenomonenology (see above), epistemology, and ontology.
  • Normative Ethics – Questions of theoretical content, what makes something right, wrong, good, bad, obligatory, or supererogatory.
  • Applied Ethics – Questions of conduct related to specific issues in the real world to do with business, professional, social, environmental, bioethics, and personhood.

You’ll discover a variety of resources (both free and paid) on this list including normative ethics, issues in normative ethics, consequentialism, deontology, virtue ethics, metaethics, moral judgement, moral responsibility, moral realism and irrealism, research ethics, journals and books. We hope you find these resources helpful, and enjoy reading!

Normative Ethics

  1. Reasons for Action: Agent-Neutral vs. Agent-Relative (2017) by Michael Ridge Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    In this entry, Ridge lays out another way of categorizing theories in normative ethics in an accessible manner.
  2. Ethics: The Fundamentals (2006) by Julia Driver
    Explores core ideas and arguments in moral theory by introducing students to different philosophical approaches to ethics, including virtue ethics, Kantian ethics, divine command theory, and feminist ethics.
  3. Justice: What’s the Right Thing To Do? (2010) by Michael Sandel
    A renowned Harvard professor’s brilliant, sweeping, inspiring account of the role of justice in our society–and of the moral dilemmas we face as citizens.
  4. Moral Theory: An Introduction (2012) by Mark Timmons
    Explores some of the most historically important and currently debated moral theories about the nature of the right and good.
  5. Morality: An Introduction to Ethics (2012) by Bernard Williams
    Confronts the problems of writing moral philosophy and offers a stimulating alternative to more systematic accounts which seem nevertheless to have left all the important issues somewhere off the page.
  6. The Elements of Moral Philosophy (2014) by James Rachels and Stuart Rachels
    Includes a minimal definition of normative ethics as a whole.

Issues in Normative Ethics

  1. Egoism (2014) by Robert Shaver Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    Egoism can be a descriptive or a normative position. Psychological egoism, the most famous descriptive position, claims that each person has but one ultimate aim: her own welfare.
  2. Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Value (2014) by Michael Zimmerman Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    Intrinsic value has traditionally been thought to lie at the heart of ethics. Philosophers use a number of terms to refer to such value.
  3. Moral Luck (2013) by Dana Nelkin Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    Moral luck occurs when an agent can be correctly treated as an object of moral judgment despite the fact that a significant aspect of what she is assessed for depends on factors beyond her control.
  4. Welfare (2010) by Christopher Heathwood
    Things go better for some people than they do for other people. Some people’s lives are quite good; if someone we cared about were to live such a life, this would please us.
  5. Well-being (2017) by Roger Crisp Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    Well-being is most commonly used in philosophy to describe what is non-instrumentally or ultimately good for a person. The question of what well-being consists in is of independent interest, but it is of great importance in moral philosophy, especially in the case of utilitarianism, according to which the only moral requirement is that well-being be maximized.


  1. Consequentialize This (2011) by Campbell Brown
    An influential work that lays out a decent strategy for keeping consequentialist theories of ethics distinct from other theories.
  2. Consequentialism (2015) by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong’s Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    Consequentialism, as its name suggests, is simply the view that normative properties depend only on consequences.
  3. Contemporary Ethics: Taking Account of Utilitarianism (1999) by William Shaw
    About the best introduction that one can find to one of the consequentialist theories: utilitarianism.
  4. Utilitarianism: For and Against (1973) by J.J.C. Smart and Bernard Williams
    An introduction to the debate over utilitarianism.


  1. A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition (1999) by John Rawls
    Rawls’s revolutionary work in both ethics and political philosophy in which he describes justice as fairness, a view he would continue to develop later on.
  2. Creating the Kingdom of Ends (1996) by Christine Korsgaard
    A good introduction to and strong defense of Kantianism.
  3. Deontological Ethics (2016) by Larry Alexander and Michael Moore Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    In contemporary moral philosophy, deontology is one of those kinds of normative theories regarding which choices are morally required, forbidden, or permitted.
  4. The Good in the Right: A Theory of Intuition and Intrinsic Value (2005) by Robert Audi
    A significant improvement and defense of one of the most influential deontological alternatives to Kantianism: Rossian deontology.
  5. What We Owe to Each Other (2000) by T.M. Scanlon
    Scanlon, one of the most notable contributors to political and ethical philosophy among his contemporaries, provides an updated and comprehensive account of his formulation of contractualism.

Virtue Ethics

  1. In Defense of the Primacy of the Virtues (2009) by Jason Kawall
    In recent decades there has been a great deal of interest in virtue ethics, broadly construed. There are, of course, many different such theories, and some dispute over what conditions a theory must meet to qualify as a virtue ethics.
  2. Intelligent Virtue (2011) by Julia Annas
    Presents a distinctive new account of virtue and happiness as central ethical ideas.
  3. Virtue Ethics (2016) by Rosalind Hursthouse Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    Virtue ethics is currently one of three major approaches in normative ethics. It may, initially, be identified as the one that emphasizes the virtues, or moral character, in contrast to the approach that emphasizes duties or rules (deontology) or that emphasizes the consequences of actions (consequentialism).
  4. Virtue Theory and Abortion (1991) by Rosalind Hursthouse
    Hursthouse’s groundbreaking and accessible work on virtue theory.

Meta-ethics (Metaethics)

  1. Contemporary Metaethics: An Introduction (2013) by Alexander Miller
    Miller traces the development of contemporary debates in metaethics from their beginnings in the work of G. E. Moore up to the most recent arguments between naturalism and non-naturalism, cognitivism and non-cognitivism.
  2. Metaethics (2012) by Geoff Sayre-McCord’s Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    Metaethics is the attempt to understand the metaphysical, epistemological, semantic, and psychological, presuppositions and commitments of moral thought, talk, and practice.
  3. Metaethics: A Contemporary Introduction (2015) by Mark van Roojen
    Metaethics: A Contemporary Introduction provides a solid foundation in metaethics for advanced undergraduates by introducing a series of puzzles that most metaethical theories address.
  4. Metaethics: An Introduction (2011) by Andrew Fisher
    Do moral facts exist? What would they be like if they did? What does it mean to say that a moral claim is true? What is the link between moral judgment and motivation?
  5. The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory (2005) by David Copp
    A major new reference work in ethical theory consisting of commissioned essays by leading moral philosophers.
  6. The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics (2017) by Tristram McPherson, David Plunkett
    This is probably a more difficult read than the others, but it is incredibly comprehensive and helpful. There are many things in this handbook that I’ve been reading about for a long time that I didn’t feel confident about until reading this. Certainly worth the cost.

Moral Judgement

  1. Moral Motivation (2016) by Connie S. Rosati Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    In our everyday lives, we confront a host of moral issues. Once we have deliberated and formed judgments about what is right or wrong, good or bad, these judgments tend to have a marked hold on us.
  2. The Moral Problem (1998) by Michael Smith
    A must read for those who want to engage with issues in moral judgment, functioning both as a work popularly considered the most important in the topic as well as a great introduction.

Moral Responsibility

  1. Arguments for Incompatibilism (2017) by Kadri Vihvelin Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    We believe that we have free will and this belief is so firmly entrenched in our daily lives that it is almost impossible to take seriously the thought that it might be mistaken.
  2. Compatibilism (2015) by Michael McKenna and D. Justin Coates Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    Compatibilism offers a solution to the free will problem, which concerns a disputed incompatibility between free will and determinism. Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism.
  3. Free Will (2018) by Timothy O’Connor and Christopher Franklin Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    Questions concerning the nature and existence of this kind of control (e.g., does it require and do we have the freedom to do otherwise or the power of self-determination?), and what its true significance is (is it necessary for moral responsibility or human dignity?) have been taken up in every period of Western philosophy and by many of the most important philosophical figures, such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, and Kant.
  4. Moral Responsibility (2014) by Andrew Eshelman Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    Making judgments about whether a person is morally responsible for her behavior, and holding others and ourselves responsible for actions and the consequences of actions, is a fundamental and familiar part of our moral practices and our interpersonal relationships.
  5. Perspectives on Moral Responsibility (1993) by John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza
    Explores aspects of responsibility, including moral accountability; hierarchy, rationality, and the real self; and ethical responsibility and alternative possibilities.

Moral Realism and Irrealism

  1. Anti-realism (2015) by Richard Joyce Moral
    “Anti-realism,” “non-realism,” and “irrealism” may for most purposes be treated as synonymous. Occasionally, distinctions have been suggested for local pedagogic reasons, but no such distinction has generally taken hold.
  2. Constructivism in Metaethics (2017) by Carla Bagnoli
    Metaethical constructivism is the view that insofar as there are normative truths, they are not fixed by normative facts that are independent of what rational agents would agree to under some specified conditions of choice.
  3. Debunking Evolutionary Debunking (2013) by Katia Vavova
    Here, Vavova provides a very influential, comprehensive, and easy to read overview of evolutionary debunking arguments, in which she also takes the liberty of pointing out their flaws.
  4. Four Faces of Moral Realism (2007) by Stephen Finlay
    A very popular Philosophy Compass paper that lays out very simply what moral realism is without arguing for or against any position.
  5. Moral Cognitvism vs. Moral Non-cognitivism (2013) by Mark van Roojen
    Non-cognitivism is a variety of irrealism about ethics with a number of influential variants. Non-cognitivists agree with error theorists that there are no moral properties or moral facts.
  6. Moral Realism (2015) by Geoff Sayre-McCord Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
    Moral realists are those who think that, in these respects, things should be taken at face value—moral claims do purport to report facts and are true if they get the facts right. Moreover, they hold, at least some moral claims actually are true.
  7. The Normative Web (2007) by Terrence Cuneo
    An obligatory text laying out the popular companions in guilt argument for moral realisms.
  8. What is Constructivism in Ethics and Metaethics? (2010) by Sharon Street
    Most agree that when it comes to so-called ‘first-order’ normative ethics and political philosophy, constructivist views are a powerful family of positions. When it comes to metaethics, however, there is serious disagreement about what, if anything, constructivism has to contribute.


  1. National Center for Professional and Research Ethics (NCPRE)
  2. National Science Foundation Office of Inspector General
  3. Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP)
  4. Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Research
  5. Project for Scholarly Integrity
  6. Resources for Research Ethics Education


  1. Accountability in Research
  2. Ethics and Behavior
  3. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics
  4. Science and Engineering Ethics

Recommended Books

  1. Responsible Conduct of Research by Beach, Dore. 1996
  2. Moral Reasoning in Scientific Research: Cases for Teaching and Assessment by Bebeau, Muriel J., et al. 1995
  3. The Ethical Dimensions of the Biological and Health Sciences by Bulger, Ruth Ellen, Elizabeth Heitman, and Stanley Joel Reiser, eds. 2002
  4. Research Ethics: A Reader by Elliott, Deni, and Judy E. Stern, eds. 1997
  5. Ethical Issues in Scientific Research: An Anthology by Erwin, Edward, Sidney Gendin, and Lowell Kleiman, eds. 1994
  6. Engineering Ethics by Fleddermann, Charles B. 2007
  7. Ethics and the Profession of Anthropology: Dialogue for Ethically Conscious Practice by Fluehr-Lobban, Carolyn. 2002
  8. On Fact and Fraud: Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science by Goodstein, David L. 2010
  9. Engineering Ethics: Concepts and Cases by Harris, Charles E., Jr., Michael S. Pritchard, and Michael J. Rabins. 2008
  10. Research Ethics for Social Scientists: Between Ethical Conduct and Regulatory Compliance by Israel, Mark, and Iain Hay. 2006
  11. Computer Ethics by Johnson, Deborah G. 2008
  12. Teaching the Responsible Conduct of Research through a Case Study Approach: A Handbook for Instructors by Korenman, Stanley G., and Allan C. Shipp. 1994
  13. Textbook of Research Ethics: Theory and Practice by Loue, Sana. 2000
  14. Scientific Integrity: Text and Cases in Responsible Conduct of Research by Macrina, Francis L. 2005
  15. Research Fraud in the Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences by Miller, David J., and Michel Hersen, eds. 1992
  16. Case Studies in Biomedical Research Ethics by Murphy, Timothy F. 2004
  17. On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research by National Academy of Sciences. 2009
  18. Responsible Science, Vol. 1: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process by National Academy of Sciences. 1992
  19. Responsible Science, Vol. 2: Background Papers and Resource Documents by National Academy of Sciences. 1992
  20. The Students’ Guide to Research Ethics by Oliver, Paul. 2010
  21. The Human Use of Animals: Case Studies in Ethical Choice by Orlans, F. Barbara, et al., eds. 2008
  22. Research Ethics: Cases and Materials by Penslar, Robin Levin, ed. 1995
  23. The Ethics of Science: An Introduction by Resnik, David B. 1998
  24. Research Ethics: Cases and Commentaries by Schrag, Brian, ed. 1997-2006
  25. Fundamentals of Ethics for Scientists and Engineers by Seebauer, Edmund G., and Robert L. Barry. 2000
  26. Instructor’s Manual for Fundamentals of Ethics for Scientists and Engineers by Seebauer, Edmund G.. 2000
  27. Responsible Conduct of Research by Shamoo, Adil E., and David B. Resnik. 2009
  28. Ethics of Scientific Research by Shrader-Frechette, Kristin S. 1994
  29. Planning Ethically Responsible Research: A Guide for Students and Internal Review Boards by Sieber, Joan E. 1992
  30. Honor in Science. Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society by Sigma Xi. 1999
  31. The Responsible Researcher: Paths and Pitfalls. Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society by Sigma Xi. 1999
  32. ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research. Revised ed by Steneck, Nicholas H. 2007
  33. The Ethics of Scientific Research: A Guidebook for Course Development by Stern, Judy E., and Deni Elliott. 1997
  34. Archaeological Ethics by Vitelli, Karen D., and Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, eds. 2006