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Publications in VIVO

Norcross, Alastair J.



Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • Prof. Norcross’s research is primarily in ethical theory--that is normative ethics and metaethics. His overarching project is to make the world safe for consequentialist theories, in particular utilitarianism. He expounds and develops a nonstandard form of utilitarianism, scalar utilitarianism. This version of the theory accepts at the fundamental level only judgments of goodness of states of affairs, and comparative judgments (better or worse) of actions with alternative possible actions. Notions such as 'right' and 'wrong', 'good' and 'bad' (as applied to actions), and 'harmful' are only intelligible at a higher, contextually sensitive, level. He also does some work in areas of applied ethics, such as abortion, euthanasia, and animal rights (though, like Bentham and Peter Singer, he regards all natural rights as nonsense, sometimes on stilts).


  • normative ethics, applied ethics (especially animals, abortion, and euthanasia), metaethics, political philosophy


selected publications


courses taught

  • PHIL 1100 - Ethics
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Fall 2018
    Introductory study of major philosophies on the nature of the good for humanity, principles of evaluation, and moral choice as they apply to contemporary moral problems.
  • PHIL 1200 - Contemporary Social Problems
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020 / Spring 2023
    Examines competing positions in debates over a wide variety of controversial moral, social and political issues. Topics may include: abortion, world poverty, animal rights, immigration, physician-assisted suicide, freedom of religion, hate speech, cloning, income inequality, pornography, gun rights, racial profiling, capital punishment, overpopulation, prostitution, drug legalization, torture. Formerly titled 'Philosophy and Society.'
  • PHIL 3100 - Ethical Theory
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018
    Examines important doctrines and arguments in various areas of theoretical ethics, such as the normative ethics of behavior, axiology, virtue theory and metaethics. Department enforced prerequisite: 3 hours of philosophy course work (minimum grade C-). Recommended prerequisite: 6 hours of philosophy course work.
  • PHIL 4120 - Philosophy and Animals
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019 / Fall 2021
    Examines the moral status of nonhuman animals, and its implications for the common use of animals as food and experimental subjects for humans. Same as PHIL 5120. Recommended prerequisites: PHIL 1100 or PHIL 1200 or PHIL 3100.
  • PHIL 5100 - Ethics
    Secondary Instructor - Fall 2019 / Fall 2020
    Presents representative positions in normative ethics and metaethics. May be repeated up to 6 total credit hours.
  • PHIL 5810 - Special Topics in Philosophy
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2021
    Instructor meets regularly with three or more students to discuss special topics in philosophy. May be repeated up to 9 total credit hours.
  • PHIL 6100 - Seminar in Ethics
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019 / Fall 2020 / Fall 2022
    Intensive study of selected topics in ethical theory.
  • PHIL 6940 - Master's Candidate for Degree
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2021
    May be repeated up to 7 total credit hours.
  • PHIL 6950 - Master's Thesis
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2021
    May be repeated up to 7 total credit hours.


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