“Doing Ethics” Primary Source Readings Online Links for Ventura College Students


What Is the Socratic Method? by Christopher Phillips

The Euthyphro by Plato


Anthropology and the Abnormal by Ruth Benedict

Trying Out One’s New Sword by Mary Midgley









Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill



Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals by Immanuel Kant

Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas



Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

The Need for More Than Justice by Annette C. Baier

  • This is a chapter in the full text available in VC Library Online Databases:

Moral Prejudices: Essays on Ethics, Baier, Annette;1994



A Defense of Abortion by Judith Jarvis Thomson

On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion by Mary Anne Warren

Why Abortion Is Immoral by Don Marquis

Virtue Theory and Abortion by Rosalind Hursthouse

  • Full text available in VC Library Online Databases:

Philosophy & Public Affairs, 1 July 1991, Vol.20(3), pp.223-246 [Peer Reviewed Journal]



Genetic Enhancement by Walter Glannon

Is Gene Therapy a Form of Eugenics? by John Harris

The Wisdom of Repugnance by Leon R. Kass

Cloning Human Beings: An Assessment of the Ethical Issues Pro and Con by Dan W. Brock



Active and Passive Euthanasia by James Rachels

The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia by J. Gay-Williams

Voluntary Active Euthanasia by Dan W. Brock

Euthanasia by Philippa Foot

  • Full essay available in VC Library Online Database:Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Winter, 1977), pp. 85-112 [Journal]

Killing and Allowing to Die by Daniel Callahan

  • Text not available for free online



The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense by Ernest van den Haag

Justice, Civilization, and the Death Penalty: Answering van den Haag by Jeffrey H.

  • Text not available for free online

Against the Death Penalty: The Minimal Invasion Argument by Hugo Adam Bedau

  • Text not available for free online

In Defense of the Death Penalty by Louis P. Pojman



The Ethics of Addiction by Thomas Szasz

The Fallacy of the “Hijacked Brain” by Peg O’Connor

Against the Legalization of Drugs by James Q. Wilson



Plain Sex by Alan H. Goldman

Sexual Morality by Roger Scruton

Sexual Perversion by Thomas Nagel

  • Full text available in VC Library Online Databases:
    • The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 66, No. 1 (Jan. 16, 1969), pp. 5-17 [Journal]

Feminists against the First Amendment by Wendy Kaminer

“The Price We Pay”?: Pornography and Harm by Susan J. Brison



On Gay Rights by Richard D. Mohr

What Marriage Is For: Children Need Mothers and Fathers by Maggie Gallagher

Here Comes the Groom: A (Conservative) Case for Gay Marriage by Andrew Sullivan



People or Penguins by William F. Baxter

The Ethics of Respect for Nature by Paul W. Taylor

Are All Species Equal? by David Schmidtz

The Land Ethic by Aldo Leopold



All Animals Are Equal by Peter Singer

The Case for Animal Rights by Tom Regan

Difficulties with the Strong Rights Position by Mary Anne Warren

Speciesism and the Idea of Equality by Bonnie Steinbock



Reconciling Pacifists and Just War Theorists by James P. Sterba

  • Full text available in VC Library Online Databases:

Social Theory and Practice, Spring, 1992, Vol.18(1), p.21(18) [Peer Reviewed Journal]

Against “Realism” by Michael Walzer

  • Text not available for free online
  • Full text available in VC Library:

Just and unjust wars: a moral argument with historical illustrations Walzer, Michael;1977

Can Terrorism Be Morally Justified? by Stephen Nathanson

The Case for Torturing the Ticking Bomb Terrorist by Alan M. Dershowitz



Reverse Discrimination as Unjustified by Lisa H. Newton

The Case against Affirmative Action by Louis P. Pojman

Affirmative Action and Quotas by Richard A. Wasserstrom

In Defense of Affirmative Action by Tom L. Beauchamp

  • Full text available in VC Library Online Databases:

The Journal of Ethics, 1998, Vol.2(2), pp.143-158 [Peer Reviewed Journal]



On Justice by John Rawls

The Entitlement Theory of Justice by Robert Nozick

  • This is one chapter of the full text available in VC Library Online Databases: Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Nozick,Robert;1974

Famine, Affluence, and Morality by Peter Singer

Lifeboat Ethics by Garrett Hardin