PHIL 160.001 – Introduction to Ethics

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Instructor: Macy Salzberger. This course meets MWF 11:15 a.m. – 12:05 p.m. in CW 105.

What makes someone a good or bad person? What makes an action right or wrong? How do we determine what is morally right or wrong? Are our moral standards culturally relative? What are our obligations to others? Can our moral obligations conflict? These are some of the questions we will be discussing over the course of the semester. Rather than trying to answer these questions in turn, we will instead spend some time briefly examining three main areas within moral philosophy: metaethics, normative ethics, and practical ethics. The first goal of this course is to familiarize you with some of the major philosophical positions and actors in each of these areas.

This course is designed for students who have little or no background in studying philosophy. Another goal of the course, then, is to provide some introduction in philosophical reasoning generally, and further, to help you begin reasoning philosophically on your own. This will involve familiarizing yourself with the philosophical tools available to critically assess the ethical views of others, learning how to apply those tools to the views in the course readings, and learning how to apply those tools to evaluate your own ethical views.