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Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
Ethics, Oah0462, Philosophy
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Education Standards

3.1 Primary Sources in Normative Ethics

3.1 Primary Sources in Normative Ethics


This module presents sources in normative ethics.  There are two types of material:  first (in "Section 2"), there is a collection of primary sources with introductions, biographical sketches, and reading/reflecting questions; second (in "Section 3"), there is a link to a textbooks and the sections therein that significantly address normative theory via primary sources.

[Image Source - Marsayas, AGMA Ostrakon Themistocle3  - CC BY-SA 3.0. ]

Learning Objectives

The material in this module contributes to the following Ohio Introduction to Ethics TAG Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate exposure to and knowledge of the views and approaches to specific issues in ethics as presented in the writings of several figures/texts from the history of philosophy.
  • Demonstrate exposure to and knowledge of the views and approaches to specific moral problems or ethical issues as presented in the writings of several figures/texts from contemporary philosophy.
  • Demonstrate increased awareness and understanding of complex issues and complex ethical issues as presented in philosophic texts.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to examine questions and issues from diverse perspectives.
  • Demonstrate exposure to and recognition of philosophical arguments addressing traditional and contemporary ethical and moral issues within the contexts and traditions that inform them.
  • Comprehend, analyze, and evaluate diverse philosophical arguments regarding ethical matters within the contexts and traditions those matters are cast.

Primary Sources with Reading Questions

Each of the following includes lengthy selections from primary sources, biographical and introductory material, notes, and questions for reading and reflection.

Recommended Textbook Resources

Words of Wisdom:  Introduction to Philosophy

This is a free introduction to philosophy textbook that significantly engages in philosophical ethics.  It includes both selections from primary sources and summaries of theories and addresses "non-Western" source material.  Chapter 6, on "Modern Wisdom" includes discussions of more recent and contemporary philosophers such as deBeauvoir, Anscombe, and Foote.  Sections can be navigated to from the "Content" tab in the page.  Here are direct links to some of the lengthier selections in moral theory from the textbook.

Plato, Euthyprho

Plato, "The Ring of Gyges"

Plato, "Allegory of the Cave"

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Selections

Augustine, "The Nature of Good"

Bentham, Excerpts from The Principles of Morals and Legislation

Mill, Excerpts from Utilitarianism

Kant, Excerpts from The Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals

Nietzsche, Excerpts from Beyond Good and Evil

Rand, Excerpts from Various Works

Bhagavad-Gita, Excerpts

Buddhist Teachings, Brief Overview

Dao De Jing Selections

Confucius, Selections from The Analects


South and East Asian Philosophy Reader:  An Open Educational Resources

This free text contains introductions to Asian philosophies as well as significant selections from primary sources.


Chinese Philosophy OER

This page contains links to numerous resources on Chinese philosophy - including translations, commentaries, reference works, and history.