Philosophy | Introduction to Ethics
P140 | 15639 | Shapshay
Introduction to Ethics is a lecture-discussion class in which we
will study Western philosophical approaches to the following
fundamental questions of ethics: What ought I to do to be a good
person? What is a moral life? Are there objective rights and
wrongs about how to live or is all morality simply relative to a
culture or to the individual? We will study Aristotelian virtue
ethics, Utiltiarianism, Kantian ethics and Ross’s Principlism.
Additionally, we will put these theories to work in addressing
several contested contemporary moral issues: questions of global
justice and whether citizens of affluent nations have an obligation
to aid those in impoverished nations, as well as the proper
treatment of non-human animals. This course has three major aims:
(1) To familiarize you with major classic and contemporary
(2) To challenge you to examine critically your own pre-
conceived ideas about what is right and wrong.
(3) To develop your critical thinking abilities especially with
respect to arguments about matters of value, and to hone your
ability to develop and defend well-reasoned positions on ethical
issues both orally and in writing.
After taking this class, students should be able better to
understand, analyze, and evaluate moral claims and arguments, and to
construct moral positions and defend them in writing. These skills
are vital for leading an examined life—and, as Socrates put it,
the “unexamined life is not worth living”—and thus this course
should serve you in your public and private lives well beyond the
walls of this classroom.