Introduction to Ethics|
Spring 2014 not offered
|Certificates: Environmental Studies, Civic Engagement, Environmental Studies, Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory|
We will begin with some ancient questions about values. We find that two ancient approaches to right living (Platonic-Stoic and Aristotelian) differ radically over how much experience or society can teach us about what is good. Yet both insist that moral life is essentially connected to individual happiness.
Turning next to modern ideas of moral action (Kantian and utilitarian), we find that they both emphasize a potential gulf between individual happiness and moral rightness. Yet like the ancients, they disagree over whether morality's basic insights derive from experience.
The last third of the course explores more recent preoccupations with ideas about moral difference, moral change, and the relation between morality and power. Especially since Marx and Nietzsche, moral theory faces a sustained challenge from social theorists who allege moral norms and judgments serve hidden ideological purposes. Some have sought to repair universal ethics by giving an account of progress or the overcoming of bias, while others have argued for plural or relative ethics. Ecological critics have challenged moral theorists to overcome their preoccupation with exclusively human interests and ideals. What kinds of moral reflection might be adequate to problems of global interdependence?
Students will come to understand the distinctive insights and arguments behind all of the positions considered, to recognize more and less cogent lines of response to them, and to shape their own patterns of moral reasoning through careful reflection.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Lecture / Discussion||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CIVI-MN)(CSCT)(ENVS-MN)(ENVS)(HRAD-MN)(PHIL)(PHIL-Philosophy)(PHIL-Social Jus)(SISP-Phil Ethic)(SISP-Phil Mind)
Plato, FIVE DIALOGUES (translated by Grube, Hackett 1981)
ARISTOTLE'S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS (translated by Bartlett and Collins, University of Chicago)
Kant, GROUNDING OF THE METAPHYSICS OF MORALS (translated by Ellington, Hackett 1981 or later)
Mill, UTILITARIANISM (Hackett 1979 or later)
Additional readings will be made available on reserve and via photocopy packet.
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Critical discussion question completed in groups during each session, based on pre-class reading; six micro-essay reading responses on moodle (one per unit); midterm and final exams; one extended essay.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
Regular participation (hence attendance) is essential. Students who anticipate potential scheduling conflicts (athletic travel, for example) should consult carefully to ensure their availability during all class hours.
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