Questions about the nature and standing of morality arise in both theory and practice. Moreover, in recent years morality has served as a central example in wide philosophical debates about the nature of normativity — roughly, the idea that there are certain things we ought to do (morality), or the believe (epistemology), or to infer (reasoning), or to appreciate (aesthetics), or that there are values at stake in these domains of life. In this course we will critically investigate several of the most influential philosophical conceptions of morality, including historical as well as contemporary writings.
Among the questions we will consider:
- In what sense, if any, is there a need for theory or "foundations" in morality?
- How are we to understand the meaning of moral terms?
- Are moral judgements capable of truth and falsity?
- In what sens, if any, can moral claims be objective?
- What is the relation of "ought" to "is"?
- What is the relation of moral evaluation to motivation and action?
Midterm and final examinations; a term paper.