Philosophy | Introduction to Ethics
P140 | 19770 | Shapshay
This 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? What
is the relationship (if any) between religion and ethics? We will
also put these theories to work in addressing several contested
contemporary moral issues: the question of whether citizens of
affluent nations have an obligation to aid the distant poor, the ever-
hotly-contested issue of abortion and its implications for the
contemporary moral debate over the use of human embryonic stem cells
in medical research and therapy.
Students will be expected carefully to read primary texts from older
philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, J.S. Mill and Kant as well as
contemporary moral theorists such as Bernard Williams, Judith Jarvis
Thomson and Peter Singer. Coursework includes weekly short writing
assignments or online quizzes, a midterm, final and a short paper.
After taking this class, students should be able better to (1)
understand, analyze, and evaluate moral claims and arguments, and (2)
construct moral positions and defend them in writing. These skills
should serve you in your public and private lives well beyond the
walls of this classroom.