Philosophy | Introduction to Ethics
P140 | 6136 | Churchill
Few questions are as important as those that concern how we should
live. These include more specific questions, like those that are
about which character traits ought to be cultivated and which
eliminated, to more general questions about what constitutes “the
The importance of such questions gives us motivation to take a close
look at various questions in the field of ethics, with an eye toward
gaining an appreciation of some of the issues that lie beneath the
surface of our ordinary ethical discourse. This will be the chief
focus of our course. We will begin by considering arguments for the
conclusion that morality is something that is subjective to
individuals or relative to culture. We’ll then examine several
authors who reject this conclusion and seek to explain what makes
objectively right actions right and objectively wrong actions
wrong. The final part of the course will involve a shift from
theoretical to practical concerns.
No previous background in philosophy or ethics will be assumed, as
this is an introductory course. What will be assumed is a
willingness to engage these issues, to think carefully about them,
and to contribute to discussions that treat them.
Grades will be based on two in-class exams, quizzes, a short paper,
and class participation.