Course Syllabus


  • Spring 2023
  • Monday/Wednesday/Friday 10:10-11:00 a.m.
  • 56 Social Sciences Building

R. Jay Wallace

  • Office: 134 Philosophy Hall
  • Phone/Email: 510 394-3309/ 
  • Office Hours: Thursday 3:00–4:00 p.m. (other times by appointment)


Sarah Vernallis



  • Hobbes, Leviathan (Hackett)
  • Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (Prometheus)
  • Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (Cambridge)
  • Korsgaard, The Sources of Normativity (Cambridge)
  • Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics (Hackett)


  • Foot, Natural Goodness (Oxford)
  • Wallace, The Moral Nexus (Princeton)

It is probably a good idea to purchase the required books listed above, as you will need to study them closely and repeatedly. (They are all influential contributions to ethical theory, available in affordable student editions.) With the exception of the book by Korsgaard, however, there are free electronic editions that you can find online if you are unable to purchase the editions ordered for the class.

The recommended books include texts that are required for the course; but they do not need to be purchased, as electronic copies of the relevant material will be made available on the bCourses site.

Additional required readings will all be made available on bCourses, and also in a course reader that you can purchase online for $19 from Copy Central on Telegraph Ave. (You order online, and either pick up the reader in person the next day at the Telegraph Ave. location, or have the reader mailed to you.) 


Two papers, 5 pages in length, due February 8 and March 8; and one paper of approximately 8 pages (or "take-home exam"), due on May 9. Regular attendance at lectures and conscientious participation in discussion sections should also be considered requirements of the course. Each of the first two papers will count toward 22.5% of the final grade; the third, longer paper will count toward 45% of the final grade; and 10% of the final grade will be based on performance in discussion section.

Course Policies:

  1. The class will be taught in-person at the scheduled times and places. Lectures will be recorded using Course Capture, and the recordings will be made available to those who are not able to attend particular sessions (e.g. on account of illness or temporary quarantine). Extensive notes on the readings, as well as power point slides used in lectures, will be made available on bCourses in advance of each class meeting.

  2. Plagiarism and cheating are not acceptable (though they are also pretty rare), and they will not be tolerated in this course. Students who violate the Student Code of Conduct will automatically receive a grade of F for the course, and their infraction will be reported to the Center for Student Conduct.

    Information about plagiarism, acceptable and unacceptable paraphrasing, and other aspects of our academic integrity policies may be found at the following links; if you have questions, please ask the instructor or your GSI! to an external site. to an external site. to an external site.

  3. Turnitin will be enabled for all papers and exams. Your submission will be compared to a database of other papers and materials. (It will be added to the database too, but only for the purposes of future comparisons within UC Berkeley.) About 15 minutes after you submit, an originality report will be generated, which should be visible to you on the page where you submitted. (Don’t worry if the report shows some incidental matches; that's almost inevitable, even if your work is entirely your own.)

    What if the originality report shows that your work was not entirely your own? If you do nothing further, then your plagiarism will be reported to the Center for Student Conduct, and you will receive an F for the course (see #2 above). But you will also have the option of rewriting your paper or exam so that it is entirely your own work, and resubmitting it. Your history of submissions and their originality reports will be visible to us; but so long as your final submission is your own work (and not, say, the product of just enough tweaking to get past Turnitin), we will ignore the earlier submissions. The aim is not to catch anyone, just to make sure that everyone fulfills the course requirements. (Note, however, that final submissions that are submitted after the deadline will be subject to the penalty scheme explained in #4 below.)

  4. Due dates for written work will be enforced strictly. Students who submit late papers will ordinarily be penalized one grade interval (e.g. from B+ to B) for each 24-hour period that their paper is overdue. Extensions will be granted only for exceptional situations that could not have been anticipated and coped with through careful advance planning (e.g. family emergencies, illnesses, personal crises, etc.). It is your responsibility to contact your GSI and/or the instructor immediately if you think that you have encountered a circumstance of the kind that might merit an extension.

  5. Our goal is that this classroom should be a participatory community where everyone can fulfill their potential for learning; there is no place for sexual harassment or violence. If your behavior harms another person in this class, you may be removed from the class temporarily or permanently, or from the University. If you or someone you know experiences sexual violence or harassment, there are options, rights, and resources, including assistance with academics, reporting, and medical care. For more information, visit or path to care. You may also wish to consult the Department’s statement about equity and inclusion, which includes links to additional resources.


1. Self-Interest and Sympathy.

Week of January 16   

[No class January 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day]              

  • Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapters 6, 11, 13

Week of January 23               

  • Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapters 14-15, 17-18, 20-21
  • Hume, Treatise of Human Nature, Book II, Part III, Section 3; Book III, Part I, Sections 1 and 2

Week of January 30             

[Paper #1 due February 8]

2. Universalistic Hedonism and the Moral Law.

Week of February 6         

  • Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics, Book I, Chapter I; Book II, Chapter I; Book III, Chapters I (sections 1, 4, and 5 only), XI, and XIII

Week of February 13           

  • Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics, Book IV, Chapters I-III, Chapter V; Concluding Chapter
  • Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Preface; First Section

Week of February 20         

[No class February 20: Presidents' Day]  

  • Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Second Section (to page 420)

Week of February 27                

  • Kant, Groundwork, Second Section (from page 420)

[Paper #2 due March 8]

3. Morality, Value, and the Personal Point of View.

Week of March 6                 

Week of March 13               

Week of March 20               

[Week of March 27: Spring Break]

4. Three Contemporary Accounts.

Week of April 3              

  • Korsgaard, The Sources of Normativity, Prologue, Lectures 3 and 4

Week of April 10             

  • Korsgaard, The Sources of Normativity, Lecture 4 (cont.)
  • Foot, Natural Goodness, Chapters 1-3

Week of April 17           

Week of April 24           

[Week of May 1: Reading/Review/Recitation]

[Paper #3—or "Take-Home Exam"—due May 9 at 3:00 p.m.]



Course Summary:

Date Details Due