Philosophy | Contemporary Ethical Theories
P540 | 28459 | Baron, Marcia


This course will examine a number of related questions concerning
character, friendship, and the scope and limits of morality, all in
relation to Kantian ethics and consequentialism.

In the past few decades, a number of leading philosophers have
argued that modern ethical theories--or perhaps morality itself--are
at odds with important values, in particular, those of character and
personal integrity, and of friendship, loyalty, and commitment to a
person, community or project.  The concern, more specifically, is
that morality--or moral theory--asks us to step outside our lives,
our loves and our commitments, to evaluate them from a distant and
impersonal perspective, and  to be ready to give up a project if it
conflicts with morality's requirements. Some philosophers see the
problem to pose a challenge for Kantian ethics and consequentialism.
We will evaluate both utilitarianism and Kantian ethics in light of
this challenge. Others (in particular Susan Wolf) hold that it shows
only that morality must not be taken too seriously: moral
considerations are not invariably overriding, and there is such a
thing as being "too moral".  Still others, of course, deny that
there is a problem.

Discussion of these issues thus presses in two directions: towards
asking how morality should be understood and what its scope and
limits are; towards an investigation of personal commitment,
personal integrity, friendship and other forms of personal
attachment. We'll explore both, as well as the tension between
(impartial) morality and personal attachment, and will consider the
implications for Kantian ethics and consequentialism.

In the last third of the course, depending on students' interests,
we 'll probably shift gears and read Darwall, *The Second-Person
Standpoint*. But this will be decided after the first couple of
weeks of the term.

Readings for this class will be on e-reserves or available on Jstor.
They include articles by R.M. Adams, Marcia Baron, Cheshire Calhoun,
Sarah Conly, Barbara Herman, Alasdair MacIntyre, Peter Railton,
William Wilcox, Bernard Williams, and Susan Wolf, among others.