Introduction to Ethics (PHIL 160.001)

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Instructor: Stan Husi. This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00 – 10:50 a.m. in Caldwell 105.

In this introductory course to Ethics, we are going to systematically investigate the nature of ethics, what exactly it demands and values and why, what objective status it enjoys (or does not enjoy), whether and how we could come to acquire ethical knowledge, whether and why we should care about being ethical, what relation ethics bears to religion, and its connection to moral responsibility. We are discussing the major ethical traditions such as consequentialism, the view that the one and only criterion for the moral assessment of actions is the quality of their consequences; deontology, the view that some actions, such as the keeping or breaking of promises, may be right or wrong irrespective of their consequences; contractarianism, the view that moral rules are based on actual or hypothetical agreements regulating basic social arrangements; and virtue ethics, the view that character is key for understanding ethics. The course will be rounded off by looking at some hot ethical issues. The readings are drawn from Russ Shafer-Landau’s excellent anthology Ethical Theory and James Rachels’ classic introduction The Elements of Moral Philosophy.

Stan Husi’s webpage