PHIL 160.001 – Virtue, Value, and Happiness: An Introduction to Moral Theory

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Instructor: Dan Shahar. This course meets MWF 1:25 – 2:15 p.m. in PE 216.

What does it take to live a good life? What does it take to be an ethical person? Are the answers the same, or does morality require us to sacrifice our own wellbeing for some higher purpose? These are among the most fundamental questions one can ask, and people have been struggling to answer them for thousands of years. This course will explore some of the most famous attempts from the history of Western civilization, including works from Plato, Aristotle, David Hume, Jeremy Bentham, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill. Along the way, we will discuss the differences between the ethical paradigms of “virtue ethics,” “utilitarianism,” and “deontology,” and we will grapple with the timeless question of what kinds of people we should aspire to be.