PHIL 462.001 – Contemporary Moral Philosophy

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Instructor: David Pizarro. This course meets R 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in KL B125.

Morality seems to be a universal feature of human thinking. People across time, place, and culture have a strong sense of right and wrong. Where does this moral sense come from? Is it innate? Is it a product of socialization? Why do some people disagree so strongly about what is right and wrong? Are there any universally agreed upon moral rules?

Although morality was once of primary interest to psychologists, interest in the topic saw a sharp decline. In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in the science of morality. Recently, scientists across a wide range of disciplines have made discoveries that bear on the question of how and why humans have a sense of morality.

The goals of this course are to offer an introduction to the science behind our moral sense. In order to achieve this goal, we will read articles on religion, philosophy, and almost every area of scientific psychology (social psychology, developmental psychology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive psychology). By the end of the course you should be well versed in the primary issues and debates involved in the scientific study of morality.

Please contact Jan Boxill ( for enrollment permission.  Although the pre-requisite is two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155, students who are interested in taking the course (even if they have not already taken two philosophy courses) are warmly encouraged to contact Jan for permission to enroll.