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
PHIL 1100 - Ethics
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
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
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
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
Fall 2019 / Fall 2020
Presents representative positions in normative ethics and metaethics. May be repeated up to 6 total credit hours.