PHIL 429 - Ethical Analysis
Section: 001
Term: FA 2018
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
Waitlist Capacity:
Enforced Prerequisites:
PHIL 361, 366, 367 or PPE 300, (completed with a minimum grade of C- or better); OR Graduate standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Questions of how best to understand the nature of moral thought and practice, and whether ethics can be a domain of objectivity or knowledge, have preoccupied philosophers for millennia. In the 20th century, these questions took a “linguistic turn”, as philosophers focused attention on the challenge of explaining the distinctive characteristics of moral language – what came to be called “meta-ethics”, or, as the time-honored title of this course puts it, “Ethical Analysis”. In more recent decades, however, philosophical inquiry into the foundations of ethics has broadened beyond the analysis of ethical language to become once again a wide-ranging investigation of the metaphysical, epistemic, psychological, historical, and social dimensions of morality. Indeed, as philosophers have become increasingly aware of the pervasiveness of normative dimensions in all of the traditional areas of philosophy, “meta-ethics” itself has become “meta-normative inquiry”. In this course we will critically investigate several of the most influential philosophical conceptions of morality, including historical as well as contemporary writings. Our goal will be to foster appreciation of the underlying issues and why they matter, and to contribute to the development of students' own abilities to engage in critical inquiry into the foundations of ethics and normativity.

Among the questions we will consider:

  • In what sense, if any, can normative or evaluative claims be objective?
  • Are ethical judgments capable of truth and falsity?
  • How, if at all, can we acquire knowledge in ethics?
  • Can we give an informative analysis of normativity in thought, language, and practice?
  • What is the role of sentiment and motivation in moral judgment and action?
  • In what sense, if any, is there a need for theory or “foundations” in ethics?
  • What can we learn about ethics from research in psychology and evolutionary theory?

Course Requirements:

There will be a midterm and final examination, and two short (5-7 pp.) papers

PHIL 429 - Ethical Analysis
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 9780195096699
Moral discourse and practice : some philosophical approaches, Author: Stephen Darwall, Allan Gibbard, Peter Railton., Publisher: Oxford University Press [Nachdr.]. 1997
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for PHIL 429 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi
The CourseProfile (ART) system, supported by the U-M Provost’s 3rd Century Initiative through a grant to the Office of Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (ART)