PHIL 163.001 – Practical Ethics: Moral Reasoning and How We Live
Instructor: Aurora Yu. This course meets MTWRF 9:45 – 11:15 a.m. via remote synchronous (RS) instruction.
This course is divided into two parts. In the first part, students will learn the toolkit for analyzing ethical issues. We will examine the nature of ethical reasoning and argument and address questions such as whether ethical claims appeal to objective or subjective standards, arguments for or against ethical relativism, the nature of ethical virtues, and the relationship between ethical values and other values. Additionally, we will explore the ancient roots of contemporary ethical practices.
The second part of the course will apply the toolkit to a range of practical issues, primarily in relation to gender identities and our own bodies. We will examine questions such as: What are these social conditions that grant the right to abort? Is sex work intrinsically harmful or merely because of some contingent societal conditions (e.g. the way that such work is exercised)? Do the grounds for the apparent impermissibility of sex work apply to surrogacy? What (if anything) is morally problematic with digitally generated imagery that many would call ‘pornographic’? Is euthanasia morally and/ or legally permissible? If so, on what grounds? How might gender identity block informed consent? What role might affirmative action policies play in correcting discrimination?
Throughout the course, our focus will not be on resolving society’s deepest moral controversies or discussing every popular position on every issue. Instead, our aim is to deepen our understanding of the kinds of reasons and arguments that are used to establish or support ethical claims. By doing so, we will develop a better understanding of the nature of ethical values and ethical reasoning. Our ultimate goal is to explore why some ethical issues are controversial while others are not, and to achieve a better understanding of the ethical issues facing our society today.