•  182
    Equality, envy, and the sense of injustice
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 19 (1). 2002.
    This paper attempts to defend the value of equality against the accusation that it is an expression of irrational and disreputable feelings of envy of those who are better off. It draws on Rawls’ account of the sense of justice to suggest that resentment of inequalities may be a proper resentment of injustice. The case of resentment of ‘free riders’ is taken as one plausible example of a justified resentment of those who benefit unfairly from a scheme of cooperation. Further examples then link t…Read more
  •  161
    The moral philosophers: an introduction to ethics
    Oxford University Press. 1983.
    The second edition of this accessible book features a new chapter on Nietzsche and an entirely new Part III that covers contemporary utilitarianism, rights-based ethical theories, contractarian ethics and virtue ethics, and recent debates between realism and anti-realism in ethics. The strengths of the first edition--its readability, historical approach, coverage of specific moral philosophers, and detailed recommended reading sections at the beginning of each chapter--combined with the new mate…Read more
  •  113
    This paper criticizes the conception of applied ethics as the top-down application of a theory to practical issues. It is argued that a theory such as utilitarianism cannot override our intuitive moral perceptions. We cannot be radically mistaken about the kinds of considerations which count as practical reasons, and it is the task of theoretical ethics to articulate the basic kinds of considerations which we appeal to in practical discussions. Dworkin's model of doing ethics ‘from the inside ou…Read more
  •  84
    Ethics, Killing and War
    Cambridge University Press. 1995.
    Can war ever be justified? Why is it wrong to kill? In this new book Richard Norman looks at these and other related questions, and thereby examines the possibility and nature of rational moral argument. Practical examples, such as the Gulf War and the Falklands War, are used to show that, whilst moral philosophy can offer no easy answers, it is a worthwhile enterprise which sheds light on many pressing contemporary problems. A combination of lucid exposition and original argument makes this the…Read more
  •  82
    Criteria of justice: Desert, needs and equality (review)
    Res Publica 7 (2): 115-136. 2001.
    The conception of social justice as equality is defended in this paper by examining what may appear to be two inegalitarian conceptions of justice, as distribution according to desert and as distribution according to need. It is argued that claims of just entitlement arise within a context of reciprocal co-operation for mutual benefit. Within such a context there are special cases where it can be said that those who contribute more deserve more, and that those who need more should get more, but …Read more
  •  74
    I want to consider the suggestion that certain essential components of human experience are by their nature distinctively religious, and thus that the atheist is either debarred from participating fully in such experiences, or fails to understand their real nature. I am going to look at five kinds of experience: • the experience of the moral 'ought'; • the experience of beauty; • the experience of meaning conferred by stories; • the experience of otherness and transcendence; • the experience of …Read more
  •  67
    Making sense of moral realism
    Philosophical Investigations 20 (2). 1997.
  •  60
    The concepts of freedom and equality lie at the heart of much contemporary political debate. But how, exactly, are these concepts to be understood? And do they really represent desirable political values? Norman begins from the premise that freedom and equality are rooted in human experience, and thus have a real and objective content. He then argues that the attempt to clarify these concepts is therefore not just a matter of idle philosophical speculation, but also a matter of practical politic…Read more
  •  54
    Practical reasons and the redundancy of motives
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 4 (1): 3-22. 2001.
    Jonathan Dancy, in his 1994 Aristotelian Society Presidential Address, set out to show ''why there is really no such thing as the theory of motivation''. In this paper I want to agree that there is no such thing, and to offer reasons of a different kind for that conclusion. I shall suggest that the so-called theory of motivation misconstrues the question which it purports to answer, and that when we properly analyse the question and distinguish it clearly from other questions with which it shoul…Read more
  •  47
    The author defends his version of the parallel which can be drawn between Wittgenstein's 'private language' argument and the argument that practical reasons must necessarily be public reasons. This position is compared and contrasted with recent attempts by Christine Korsgaard and Ken O'Day to formulate a 'public reasons' argument. The position is defended against the criticism that it cannt account for the practical force of reasons. Finally it is argued that, although the claim that the reason…Read more
  •  46
    Particularism and reasons: A reply to Kirchin
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 4 (1): 33-39. 2007.
    Valency switching can appear especially puzzling if we think of moral reasons as ‘pushes and pulls’—considerations whose job it is to get us to act or to stop us acting. Talk of ‘default valency’ doesn't remove the puzzle, it merely restates it. We need a different picture of reasons—perhaps as providing a map of the moral terrain which helps us to see which actions are appropriate to which situations, and who the appropriate agents are. The role of virtue concepts in particular is more complex …Read more
  •  46
    Ethics, Killing and War
    Philosophical Review 106 (1): 129. 1997.
    War, Richard Norman reminds us, is treated as the great exception to the strong moral prohibition against the killing of other humans. Despite the widespread belief that war is, in many cases, permissible, its morally exceptional character suggests that there is a strong presumption against its permissibility. Norman argues that this presumption cannot be successfully rebutted and, in particular, that just-war theory, which attempts to provide such a rebuttal, fails in this endeavor. But Norman’…Read more
  •  23
    What do Religious Believers Believe?
    Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 68 105-124. 2011.
    A common response to Richard Dawkins' assault on religious belief has been that he is attacking a straw man. The beliefs of religious believers, so the protest goes, are not as crude and simplistic as the ones which he attributes to them. Here is Terry Eagleton's comment to that effect: Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds , and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying ratio…Read more
  •  15
    Wants, reasons and liberalism
    Res Publica 8 (1): 81-91. 2001.
  •  9
    The varieties of non‐religious experience
    Ratio 19 (4): 474-494. 2006.
    I want to consider the suggestion that certain essential components of human experience are by their nature distinctively religious, and thus that the atheist is either debarred from participating fully in such experiences, or fails to understand their real nature. I am going to look at five kinds of experience:• the experience of the moral ‘ought’;• the experience of beauty;• the experience of meaning conferred by stories;• the experience of otherness and transcendence;• the experience of vulne…Read more
  •  6
    Religion and Atheism: Beyond the Divide (edited book)
    with Anthony Carroll
    Routledge. 2016.
    Arguments between those who hold religious beliefs and those who do not have been at fever pitch. They have also reached an impasse, with equally entrenched views held by believer and atheist - and even agnostic - alike. This collection is one of the first books to move beyond this deadlock. Specially commissioned chapters address major areas that cut across the debate between the two sides: the origin of knowledge, objectivity and meaning; moral values and the nature of the human person and the…Read more
  •  3
    The persistence of privilege
    The Philosophers' Magazine 64 86-91. 2014.
  • Ethics and the Market
    Routledge. 1999.
    The views and arguments presented in these papers provide a comprehensive review of the ethical problems raised by market societies and their impact on the quality of our lives.
  • Hegel, Marx and Dialectic
    Studies in Soviet Thought 25 (1): 67-69. 1983.
  • Hegel, Marx and Dialectic: A Debate
    Philosophy 56 (216): 276-277. 1980.