PHIL 160.002 – Introduction to Ethics

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Instructor: Chris Melenovsky. This course meets on MWF 11:00 – 11:50 a.m. in CW 103.

In this class, we are concerned with understanding the predominant moral theories that try to explain and justify our moral judgments. Specifically, we will focus on three of the most distinctive and historically developed perspectives: Utilitarianism, Kantian Theory and Virtue Ethics. We will also examine arguments against each of these views to see both their strengths and weaknesses. Through understanding these various positions, we can come to see the difficulties involved in explaining and justifying our moral judgments, even when those judgments are easy to make.

Key questions that we will consider include:

  • Is morality fundamentally about following rules or promoting good consequences?
  • What is the role of good character in leading a good life?
  • What is the proper understanding of happiness?
  • What is the proper understanding of rationality?
  • What is the role of moral theory in decisions? How does it bear on daily decisions?