PHIL 362.001 – Contemporary Ethical Theory

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Instructor: Rob Willison. This course meets TR 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. in CW 105.

Conceptual Ethics. Some of the most important work in 20th century ethics was directed toward questions about how best to understand moral concepts. What do we mean when we call an action or a person “good” or “bad,” “right” or “wrong”? In what ways, if any, can the nature of these properties come apart from the meanings of the terms we use to express them? More recently, philosophers have asked not only how a better understanding of concepts can advance ethical theory, but also about how ethical theory might govern our use of concepts. Can it be immoral to think and talk using certain concepts? What kind of control can we exercise over the way that concepts shape our thoughts and actions? In this course we’ll address both families of questions, with readings by (for example) Gottlob Frege, C.L. Stevenson, David Plunkett, Elisabeth Camp, and Lynne Tirrell.

Prerequisite: 1 PHIL course.