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

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Instructor: Alfredo Watkins. This course meets MWF 9:05 – 9:55 a.m. via mostly asynchronous remote instruction.

This course is an introduction to the fundamental questions of the branch of philosophy called “ethics” or “moral theory.” Questions we will address including the following: What makes a life good or worth living? Why should one act morally (as opposed to selfishly, or wretchedly)? Are moral concepts like “right” and “wrong” mere social constructions, or perhaps tools of the powerful to control the weak? Or is morality instead objective and real? If morality is objective, how can we know what is truly right and wrong?

We will approach these difficult and pressing questions through an examination of several classic texts in the history of philosophy, including Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals and Mill’s Utilitarianism.