Nancy A.S. Jecker
Reviews the principal theories for normative ethical discourse, such as utilitarianism and deontology, and major metaethical commentary on those theories. Illustrated by classical and modern authors. Recommended: one basic course in ethics. Offered: jointly with PHIL 412.
This course aims to introduce students to some of the most influential ethical theories to date and, with a critical eye, study the source and ground of their influence. Among the theories to be discussed are classical and contemporary utilitarianism, perfectionism, and Kantian ethics. In the course of studying these theories, we will raise and critically discuss the following questions. How do we avoid the conclusion the ethical standards are just a matter of cultural or individual opinion? Is it always morally preferable to perform whatever action produces the best consequences? What reason can anybody have for being moral rather than just giving the appearance of being moral when that serves one's own purposes? Readings will be from historically prominent philosophers, such as Bentham, Mill, Nietzsche, and Kant, as well as contemporary authors.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Lecture and discussion.
The course has no formal prerequisites; however, prior course work in Philosophy or Ethics is strongly recommended.
Class assignments and grading
Undergraduates are required to take two examinations. Grades for undergraduate students are determined by performance on these exams and by informed participation in class discussion.
Graduate students are required to take two examinations and to complete a 15-20 page dealing in more depth with one of the topics discussed in class. Students are strongly advised to discuss their paper topic with the instructor early in the quarter. Grades for graduate students are determined by performance on the two exams and the paper, and by informed participation in class discussion.
Class participation can influence your grade in the following way: if your final grade as determined by examinations and paper is lower than seems appropriate based on what I have observed of your performance in class, I will raise your grade by .1; no one's final grade will be dropped because of poor class performance