PP1RG-The Right and the Good

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Summer term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Prof Philip Stratton-Lake

Email: p.j.stratton-lake@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

In this module we will go through the arguments and positions of W. D. Ross’s The Right and the Good. This will involve a close reading of Ross’s seminal book to get clear on what Ross’s view was, and how defensible it is. This will cover areas such as first order normative theory, moral epistemology, and moral realism. We will assess his methodology, the historical context of the book, and its philosophical reception. 


The Right and the Good. By W. D. Ross.

Required readings will be posted online.


Thomas Hurka, British Ethical Theorists From Sidgwick to Ewing

Robert Audi, Moral Knowledge and Ethical Character.

Robert Audi, The Good in the Right

Tim Crane, The Mechanical Mind, Routledge 2003.

Brad Hoooker, “Ross-Style Pluralism Versus Rule-Consequentialism”. Mind, Vol. 105, No. 420 (Oct., 1996), pp. 531-552

Philip Stratton-Lake, ‘Introduction’ to Ethical Intuitionism: Re-Evaluations.


Students in this module will learn to engage knowledgeably, critically and rigorously with a variety of complex and pressing issues relating to moral philosophy at all levels, through a discussion of W. D. Ross’s The Right and the Good.. They will learn how the tools of philosophy can illuminate moral issues, and they will be introduced to some central questions in moral philosophy. They will learn to formulate precise arguments about these problems and questions, both orally and in writing, as well as how to engage carefully with classic philosophical texts. This module will prepare students for further Philosophy modules at Parts 2 and 3, by developing critical skills required in all Philosophy modules, as well as through subject knowledge which will be especially helpful in Ethical Argument 1 and 2 (PP2EA1 and PP2EA2).

Assessable learning outcomes:

Students in this module will acquire subject knowledge in the moral philosophy and the history of moral philosophy, by a careful engagement with the views and arguments of W. D. Ross. In addition, they will learn the skill of formulating precise, convincing philosophical arguments about moral issues such as what makes acts wrong, what is it for an act to be wrong, how do we know what is right or wrong, and how must the world be if there are to be any moral truths. They will learn how to commu nicate these arguments effectively in discussion and in writing, and how to criticise such arguments effectively and constructively, engaging effectively with their peers. Finally, in-class presentations will give students a chance to learn about presenting themselves and their ideas effectively.


Additional outcomes:

Students in this module will develop an appreciation of how philosophy can engage effectively with pressing practical issues facing society the world over. 

Outline content:

The module begins with Ross’s criticisms of previous moral philosophy. We will assess his objections to all attempts to derive the right from the good, and consider whether any of these arguments is successful. We will then move on to his own view about the fundamental principles of moral right and wrong, and his theory of prima facie duties. We will consider whether these principles are defensible, and if the are how we could know that they are true. We will then consider what he has t o say about rights and punishment, about the meaning of ‘good’, as well as his argument that there are 4 fundamental things that are intrinsically good. 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module is taught by lectures and seminars. Students are expected to attend 10 hours of lectures and 5 hours of seminars during the term in which it is provided. Seminars include student presentations, as well as discussion among multiple students. All students are required to write one module essay from a list of questions supplied by the module convenor, and to give one seminar presentation. Students are encouraged to be active in all classes, asking questions and trying to answer the qu estions posed by others. Reading, handouts and other study aids will be available via Blackboard. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 5
Guided independent study: 85
Total hours by term 0 0
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:

Students will have the opportunity to submit draft work for both their presentations and their written assignment.


Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

A mark of 40% overall 

Reassessment arrangements:

Written assignment

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 4 April 2020


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