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Instructor: Douglas MacLean. This course meets W 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. in GM 035, with a recitation on Mondays.

*This section is EXCLUSIVELY for first-year Robertson Scholars. The lecture co-convenes at Duke.


This course is an introduction to the nature of ethical reasoning and argument, especially as applied to practical issues.  We will try not to resolve deep moral controversies in this class but instead to deepen our understanding of the kinds of reasons and arguments that are used to establish and support ethical claims.  The philosophical questions we will address include: Do ethical claims appeal to objective standards?  What is the relationship between law, religion, and morality?  What is the meaning of equality, and what are the demands of justice?  When is it permissible to kill a human being?  What is our moral relationship to animals and to the environment?  And what is the relationship of moral values to other values?


Have registration questions? Our Student Services Coordinator, Rebecca Farris, can help! Please email her at for assistance.