Philosophical Ethics

Philosophical Ethics

View the Syllabus for the current term here. 

Philosophy of Ethics Introduces students to a critical examination of philosophical principles related to moral action and political values. 

  • What is the right thing to do? 
  • What should a good person be like? 
  • More generally, what determines what is right and wrong, good and bad, virtuous and vicious?

In this course, we will consider three greatly influential moral theories - Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Aristotelian Virtue Ethics. This course will begin by considering a few challenges to a reason-based morality: 1) Ethics - it is all relative, 2) Is morality determined by religion and not reason, and 3) How can ethical theories solve contemporary issues.

We will do this by evaluating three traditional moral perspectives: 1) Kantian morality (It is all about doing your duty), 2) Utilitarian morality (It is all about maximizing utility) and 3) Aristotelian morality (It is all about being virtuous) to see if one of them is better than the others.

Once we have examined these ethical theories, we will turn towards modern contemporary issues and see how they fit in relation to the ethical theories. We finally go on to apply that morality to the solution of a number of following problems: (but not limited to) Abortion and Euthanasia, Human Enhancement, Gay and Lesbian Rights, Animal Liberation and Environmental Justice, Punishment and Responsibility, or War, Torture and Terrorism. 

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Each term, I ask my students which lectures they are excited to read and which lectures would rather poke out their eyes than reading. What do you think.....????