PHIL 160.001 – Introduction to Ethics
Instructor: Dana Falkenberg. This course meets MTWRF 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. in CW 208.
Ethics is the branch of philosophy concerned with evaluating our actions, choices, characters, attitudes. We make these evaluative claims about people’s actions all the time: “Abortion is morally wrong.” “Racism is unjust.” “Cindy is a terrible friend.”
But what grounds these claims? Are they reasonable or unreasonable? Justified or unjustified? Are these claims the sorts of things that can be reasonable or justified? This is where philosophy comes in. Approaching moral questions in a philosophic manner requires that we assess and critically analyze our value judgments using reason and argument. Our beliefs and judgments are only as good as our reasons for holding them. Why is something good or bad, right or wrong? What do we mean by the terms good or bad, right or wrong?
In order to attempt to answer these questions and to learn how to think critically and philosophically about moral claims and arguments, first we will turn to some of the most influential and – arguably, at least — some of the very best works ever written on moral philosophy. We will finish the course with discussions of contemporary moral issues. Topics will be chosen by the class.