Faculty of Arts


PHIL 102

Introduction to Ethics


Description

The philosophical study of ethics provides theoretical frameworks for thinking about questions such as "What makes an action right or wrong?", "What kind of person should I try to be?" and “Is morality objective or not?” A number of theories will be explored, evaluated and applied to practical moral issues such as our obligations to strangers, our obligations to future people, our treatment of other animals, and tolerance regarding cultural differences.

Overview of Course Content

The course has two main components:

  1. An examination of three influential (Western European) approaches to Ethics: Utilitarianism, Deontology and Virtue Ethics.
  2. The application of these approaches to a variety of topics in practical ethics. Topics that will be covered in detail are: our obligations to distant strangers, our obligations to future people, our treatment of other animals, and tolerance regarding cultural differences.

Course aims

  1. To introduce to students a range of approaches to ethics, by outlining the main features of each approach, the reasons one might have for adopting such an approach and the standard objections to each approach.
  2. To explore how these approaches to ethics can be applied to real life issues in practical ethics
  3. To encourage and enable students to form their own views on the merits of each approach to ethics, and on topics in practical ethics, and to argue for these views.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Describe and, where relevant, compare, the theories presented to them in the course
  • Offer an evaluation of selected theories and views, including whether standard objections to them can met
  • Present their evaluations using the basic format of argument, objection and reply
  • Present and defend their own view on the topics covered, in the light of material presented in the course

View the course syllabus

Availability 2019

Semester 1

Lecturer(s)

Lecturer(s) Dr Vanya Kovach
Professor Timothy Mulgan

Recommended Reading

Ethics, Piers Benn, UCL Press 1998.  Available as an e-book, see Reading Lists

Assessment

Coursework + exam

Points

PHIL 102: 15.0 points


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