Philosophy | Introduction to Ethics
P140 | 1435 | Ceballes
What is the moral thing to do in a particular situation?" "How should one treat
other people?" "What kind of person should one be?" These are the sorts of
questions that often form the backdrop for ethical reflection. The growing interest
in specialized areas of ethics, e.g., business ethics, medical ethics, or bioethics,
exemplifies the desire to provide people with guidelines for what to do in
particular cases. Current debates about "character," health care, homelessness,
or poverty also illustrate how these basic questions lead us to think about ethics.
The main aim of this course is to introduce the student to several philosophical
approaches to ethics and to stimulate careful consideration and dialogue about
ethical matters. We will also try to maintain a balance between theoretical and
In the first part of the course we will become acquainted with the views of
philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, Mill, Kant, and others. As we reflect upon
their writings we will also begin to think about the nature of moral character,
selfishness, moral relativism, moral responsibility, evil, justice, and our duties to
other people. In the second part of the course we will examine a few
contemporary ethical dilemmas in light of our earlier theoretical preparation. For
instance, we will definitely discuss the ethics of human cloning.
The requirements for this course will probably consist of class participation, one
or two tests, two 3-5 page papers, and a final exam. Our readings will most likely
be selected from a standard anthology of philosophical essays and a recent
collection of essays called Flesh of My Flesh: The Ethics of Cloning Humans.
We may also supplement our main readings with a film or work of fiction.