This course introduces students to principles of moral philosophy, and provides them with opportunities to apply what they learn to the ethical questions we face in life. The overarching goal is to give students the conceptual resources they need to think about difficult and controversial ethical issues in a systematic and critical way. The course will provide a systematic introduction to moral theory, aimed at equipping students with the concepts and tools they need to analyze moral problems and develop their own moral positions. The primary focus will be normative ethics — that is, philosophical theories about the nature and principles of moral rightness and wrongness — and its applications to contemporary moral problems. After an overview of the nature of ethical thinking and some of the skeptical challenges to morality, we will work our way through several influential traditions in normative ethics: Kant’s Categorical Imperative, Utilitarianism, theories of virtue, the ethics of care, and social contract theories. Throughout the course, we will apply these theoretical approaches to a broad survey of thorny and perennial moral problems, including moral questions related to abortion, euthanasia, poverty and famine, terrorism, torture, the death penalty, animal rights, the environment, and affirmative action. This structure will roughly follow that of the course textbook, Steven M. Cahn’s Exploring Ethics (3rd edition), but will also include supplementary readings and discussion thereof.
Approximately 50 pages of required reading weekly, with exams and writing assignments to test for comprehension. To ensure learning through discussion, attendance will be required.
Freshmen and Sophomores from all academic areas.
6 hrs of lecture w/discussion