Introduction to Ethics|
Fall 2020 not offered
|Course Cluster and Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate|
This course 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.
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|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, tr. Grube (Hackett 2002)
Aristotle, NICOMACHEAN ETHICS, 2nd edition, translated by Terence Irwin (Hackett, 1999)
John Stuart Mill, UTILITARIANISM, edited by George Sher (Hackett, 2001)
Immanuel Kant, GROUNDWORK OF THE METAPHYSIC OF MORALS, translated by H. J. Paton (Harper Torchbooks, 1965)
Other required readings will be made available via print shop course packet, and via moodle.
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Preparation for small-group critical discussion question during each session; six carefully written micro-essay responses on moodle (one per unit); midterm and final exams, one extended essay.
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